A WOMAN gained employment as a personal support worker while she was in receipt of disability living allowance (dla), a court heard.

Although Norma Gransbury’s benefit claim was originally legitimate, and was twice renewed, it became unlawful once she took the council job assisting the daily needs of a blind man.

Durham Crown Court heard that she failed to declare she was working and continued to receive dla payments for a further two-and-a-half years.

The 28-year-old defendant, of The Middles, Craghead, near Stanley, admitted failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of a change in circumstances, between April 8, 2013, and December 12, 2015.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said Gransbury made her first claim for dla to the DWP in March 2004, and it was renewed in 2006 and 2009, after she submitted a self-assessment claim form.

It was on the basis that she needed to have someone with her as she was subject to seizures and needed assistance with things like getting out of bed, dressing and even getting out of a chair.

Mr Sabiston said by late 2015 the overpayment was put in excess of £10,200 as it was discovered she had been employed from April 2013 as a support worker.

“She had no obvious signs of mobility or care needs, and appeared to be in no discomfort.”

In her job she provided personal assistance to the blind man supporting him on stairs and steps, and helping him to her car.

Mr Sabiston said she had been issued with a driving licence in March 2010.

When she was arrested, Gransbury admitted having passed her driving test in 2010 and claimed she did not feel it necessary to notify the change in her circumstances.

Liam O’Brien, mitigating, said her claim was not fraudulent from the outset.

“She had the good sense to plead guilty. She clearly has health difficulties and was entitled to legitimately claim dla for a lengthy period.

“Her failing was not notifying when her condition improved, enabling her to pass her driving test and to work helping a blind gentlemen to work.”

Judge Simon Hickey said as she has no previous convictions he could suspend the sentence, adding, “it was a close run thing”.

He passed a two-month sentence, suspended for a year, and made a confiscation order of £7,400, made up of the equity in her home in Kershope Walk and a half share of her £7,000-worth Citroen DS car, which she has been selling to her partner.

She was given three months to pay or risk three months in prison in default.