A BENEFITS cheat has walked free from court after stealing more than £55,000 (€69,000) by hiding her Spanish property empire.
Despite being found guilty of seven charges Donna Tithecott, 54, from Lifton in Devon, avoided a prison sentence and is now expected to take 130 years to pay off the debt at a payment rate of just £7.50 (€9.45) a week.
Exeter Crown Court found Tithecott guilty of all charges relating to dishonest representation after she failed to inform authorities she part-owned three Spanish properties.
With the authorities unaware of her assets, Tithecott racked up a total of £55,726 (€70,179) in claims for housing benefit, council tax and income support.
The court heard that the properties were bought by her ex-husband – who she never lived with – using money he had borrowed from her and as a result her name was on the deeds.
However defence lawyer Paul Grumbar said that Tithecott did not benefit from these deals and did not put any money in or take anything out of them.
Judge Cottle summed the case up as an ‘odd’ situation and agreed with the defence that Tithecott did not benefit from the property but ordered her to repay the debt.