Convicted benefit fraudster arrested for carrying knife in town centre (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Convicted benefit fraudster arrested for carrying knife in town centre
1:18pm Wednesday 18th September 2013 in News
A BENEFIT cheat jailed last year for making £75,000 worth of bogus benefit claims has been given a 12 week suspended jail sentence for carrying a knife in a town centre.
Andrea Blakeburn, 47, was spotted by security staff outside the George pub, on Bondgate, Darlington, carrying the large kitchen knife in a paper bag.
Blakeburn, of Pateley Moor Crescent, in Darlington, entered the pub at about 2pm on September 4 and the police were called and she was arrested.
She pleaded guilty to possessing a bladed article in a public place when she appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court.
Prosecutor Jon Garside said: “She told the police that she was unable to remember what was going on and she only knew that she had the knife.”
James Fenny, defending Blakeburn, said his client had struggled to cope since she was convicted for the benefit fraud last November.
He said an initial 28 month jail sentence had been imposed for the fraud offences which Blakeburn had carried out over seven years.
Blakeburn’s defence team appealed the sentence and the Court of Appeal deemed it excessive and cut it to ten months.
Mr Fenny said Blakeburn had turned to alcohol on her release. He said she carried the knife as she was frightened and scared.
He said: “People should not be carrying knives around Darlington town centre. There was no suggestion that she was waving it about or causing any trouble.”
The magistrates imposed the jail term but suspended it for a year. Blakemore will also carry out a 12 month probation order and will pay an £80 victim surcharge.
No costs were imposed and the knife was forfeited and destroyed.