A BRITISH great grandmother who claimed more than €40,000 in benefits in the UK while secretly renting out a Spanish villa has avoided jail.
Sally Folan, 63, failed to disclose the property while claiming thousands in Jobseekers Allowance.
Hove Crown Court heard how she and her husband, Noel, a builder, had moved to Spain ‘for a better life’.
They sold their Sussex home in 2002 and bought their Spain villa for €120,000.
But Mr Folan struggled to find work in Spain following the 2008 crash, before the pair were forced to return to the UK and claim benefits.
But Mrs Folan failed to tell the authorities about her home in El Puerto De Mazarrón in Spain.
The great grandmother kept quiet about the property for three years.
Martha Walsh, prosecuting, said she fraudulently claimed £39,462.59 before the authorities discovered she had the Murcia home.
Miss Walsh said: “Her claim was fraudulent at the outset, perpetuated for a significant amount of time and there were a number of occasions on which she could have set the record straight.”
Kevin Light, defending, argued the great grandmother was of previously of good character and had admitted her guilt a the first opportunity.
Judge Jeremy Gold QC sentenced Ms Folan to eight months in prison suspended for two years.
She was also handed 100 hours of unpaid work and warned her she would face jail if she did not comply.
The 63-year-old, from Worthing, will also be subject to a hearing to establish how she can pay back the sum and has already begun paying £50 per month towards it.