A BENEFITS cheat got about £7,000 from the public purse while earning up to £1,400 a month as a courier, a court heard.

Helen Fearon, 31, had told the Department for Work and Pensions that neither she nor her partner were working.

But, she was self-employed, delivering parcels for almost two months before she first lied and made a joint claim for cash. Either she or her husband would make the deliveries, Burnley magistrates were told.

Fearon sobbed as her solicitor told the court she had lost her good name.

The defendant, of Fairfield Avenue, Waterfoot, admitted three counts of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain benefit at Rossendale - one involving ESA (employment support allowance), on or about February 8 last year, one regarding jobseekers allowance, on or about November 27, 2012 and a further allegation relating to ESA on or about May 22, 2012.

She was given a three-month, 9pm to 7am curfew, from Tuesday to Saturday and must pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

The court heard Fearon claimed JSA she wasn't entitled to for about 12 months and for ESA over two periods of six months. The total overpayment was just under £7,000.

Alex Mann, prosecuting, said the defendant didn't disclose that both she and her partner had been working as couriers. It was a fraud from the outset. She was asked if she or her partner were working and had replied no.

The prosecutor said Hermes confirmed Fearon had been working self-employed with them, since April 9, 2012 and between £314 and £1,400 a month had been earned, depending on the number of deliveries. Hermes stated it was immaterial which person delivered the parcels.

The defendant had maintained she had not been dishonest and everything had been a mistake. In a telephone call with the DWP on February 8, last year, she stated her partner was on JSA and was not working.

Jeremy Frain, for Fearon, said she had been told she could work up to 16 hours a week. But, the amount of parcels she delivered would have meant she worked beyond that.

The DWP was in the process of recouping the money from the defendant and her husband. The solicitor said: "She is genuinely remorseful."