Facebook wedding shots caught Hyndburn benefits cheat

Blackburn Citizen: Right, Nicola Haighton on her wedding day Right, Nicola Haighton on her wedding day

FRAUD investigators used evidence from Facebook to convict a woman who claimed income support as a single parent, despite getting married.

Blackburn magistrates heard checks on Nicola Haighton’s profile page uncovered photographs of the ‘happy couple’ before and after the wedding.

The court heard that two days after being a ‘princess for a day’ Haighton, 25, claimed they had a massive row and split up.

She said she had married on a ‘whim’ and regretted it straight away.

But the evidence on her Facebook page told a different story and Haighton pleaded guilty to failing to notify a change of circumstances which affected her entitlement to income support, council tax and housing benefit. She was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £100 costs.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said the benefits fraud office was informed that Haighton, of Stanhill Street, Oswaldtwistle, was living with her partner on July 5. He worked at Thwaites brewery but she was claiming as a single parent.

Miss Allan said: “They checked her Facebook page and there were photographs of them together advertising the fact they were engaged and due to be married.

“They contacted the registrar’s office and it was confirmed they were to be married on July 19 and he was using the same address as her.”

Miss Allan said the couple were married on the due date and a check on her Facebook page showed pictures of the happy couple and revealed she had changed her profile to Nicola Riding. Miss Allan added: “Investigators established the wedding had taken place at Eaves Hall, Clitheroe, and had cost £6,000.”

She said the claim had resulted in an overpayment of £3,800.

Richard Prew, defending, said: “She wanted everyone to think everything was going well and she felt under pressure from Mr Riding’s family to go through with the wedding.

“He came to live with her on an ad-hoc basis but she accepts that when he was living there she should have disclosed it to the authorities."

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