A HARD-UP mother from Halesowen fiddled thousands of pounds to give her children a "reasonable standard of

living" has kept her freedom.

Recorder Richard Benson QC told Nicola Campbell who had been "struggling to make ends meet" there was no suggestion she had used the money to fund a "fancy lifestyle."

He went on, "Some people scam the system so they can go on holidays and run a car and have a fine lifestyle. There are no

signs here that is what you did."

Campbell of Firth Drive admitted three charges of benefit fraud and she was placed on Supervision for a year and ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work in the community.

Mr Mark Phillips prosecuting told Wolverhampton Crown Court that over a four year period Campbell claimed benefits and failed

to notify the authorities she was co-habiting with her partner.

He said the original figure for the money she had been overpaid was around £31,000 but that would be reduced because it was clear her partner had not been in employment all the time.

Mr Lee Regan defending said the claims had not been fraudulent from the outset and added, "The work done by her partner was intermittent and he was not well paid."

He told the court Campbell was responsible for their child from the relationship and two others from her partner's previous relationship. "Her hands are rather full," he said.

Campbell was a woman of previous good character, maintained Mr Regan, she had been extremely embarrassed by the case

and she was now making payments to help clear the debt.