Stevenage teaching assistant convicted of fraud over £21,000 benefits claim

Cambridge Crown Court, where Reguieg was sentenced on Thursday.

Cambridge Crown Court, where Reguieg was sentenced on Thursday. - Credit: Archant

A teaching assistant has been convicted of fraud and handed a suspended prison sentence after claiming more than £21,000 in housing benefit and council tax discounts she was not entitled to.

Sonia Reguieg, of Sish Lane in Stevenage, claimed benefits as a single parent living at her council house between 2007 and 2016.

Stevenage Borough Council became suspicious about her claims in 2016 when she applied to buy her house and declared that her partner had just moved in with her.

A six-month investigation by the Hertfordshire Shared Anti-Fraud Service found that Reguieg had been living with her partner continuously since 2007, but she had never declared this on her claims for benefits and discounts.

As a result of being dishonest about her circumstances, she fraudulently obtained more than £21,000 in various benefits and discounts from the council.

Reguieg, 48, appeared at Cambridge Crown Court on Thursday, when the court heard in mitigation how Reguieg had suffered a number of traumatic personal events – her partner suffering a serious injury in 2010 and the death of her son from a brain tumour in 2012. The court heard how her relationship with her partner had also sometimes been strained.

Magistrates also heard how Reguieg, who was of previous good character, suffers from ill health.

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She told the Comet: “I’m not saying I didn’t do anything wrong, but my mind wasn’t right at all. I needed support during a difficult time but I didn’t get it.”

Having decided to plead guilty to two counts of fraud, Reguieg received a seven-month prison sentence that was suspended for 18 months.

Anyone with information about a housing, council tax or blue badge fraud can report it in confidence by emailing or by calling the Shared Anti-Fraud Service hotline on 0300 123 4033.