Montrose mum jailed for embezzling

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A mother of three was today (Wednesday) starting a jail term - after she admitted scamming more than £30,000 in benefits in just three years.

Zowie Tervet told the Department for Work and Pensions and Aberdeenshire Council she was an unemployed single mum living alone.

As a result she was given almost £200 a week in handouts.

But in reality she was living with then partner, and now husband, Mark Tervet, who was making a £20,000 a year salary.

Investigators started a probe after a tip-off to DWP.

It emerged that the couple were sharing joint bank accounts and that was where Mr Tervet’s wages were paid into to support the family.

Fiscal depute Joanne Smith told Forfar Sheriff Court: “During the period of her claims she had said she was a single mother, first of two, then of three children.

“During reviews and when she updated other information such as her address she maintained that she was a single mother.

“When a DWP officer went to her home and interviewed her she claimed Mr Tervet was to move into her house later that month, in October 2013.

“She claimed not to be aware that his wages were paid into their joint account.

“When it was put to her that a decision maker would have to decide whether her partner had been living with her and whether she had benefited financially she said ‘it certainly seems like I have’.”

Tervet, 33, of Mount Avenue, Montrose, Angus, pleaded guilty on indictment to two charges under the Social Security Administration Act.

The offences were committed at addresses in St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire, and Montrose, Angus.

Defence solicitor Nick Markowski said: “This was not done to fund a lavish lifestyle.

“It was done to make ends meet, and sometimes they did not.

“She has three children aged eight, five and three.

“She made a mistake and understands her liberty is at risk today.”

Sheriff Gregor Murray jailed Tervet - who wept in the dock throughout the hearing - for 10 months.

He said: “The sum is over £30,000 - it is substantial.

“The appeal court has determined that in the absence of quite exceptional circumstances any gain of over £20,000 ought to attract a custodial sentence.

“There are no such circumstances in this case.

“There were three years of gain.

“These crimes are easy to commit and expensive to detect.

“You are otherwise a law abiding citizen, a capable mother and wife.

“But there has to be a deterrent.”