A FIDDLING Halesowen mother who claimed over £30,000 in benefits has avoided jail.

Caroline Bennett told the Department of Work and Pensions she was living alone when she had a partner who was working as a bus driver.

The 47-year-old of Hawley Grange Road had denied two charges of failing to notify the Department of a change in her circumstances.

But she was found guilty by a jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court after they retired to consider the evidence at the end of her three day trial.

Bennett was handed a nine month jail term suspended for two years

Judge Helen Hughes further placed Bennett on Supervision for 12 months and ordered her to carry out 100 hours unpaid work in the community.

She told Bennett: "You received a large amount of money to which you were not entitled.

Things have been going on in your life you should have dealt with."

The judge added: "I hope you have learned your lesson good and proper."

Mr Christopher O'Gorman defending Bennett who fraudulently obtained £30,640 in benefits stressed the scam had not been illegal from the start.

He said it was accepted it took place over a "significant" period of time adding: "There were a number of difficulties in her personal life. Difficulties she still struggles with."