A BENEFITS cheat who claimed almost £30,000 in handouts had capital of almost £50,000, a court heard.

Anne Vickers, 50, made a false claim for cash from the public purse and carried on doing it for four years.

She had inherited money from her parents, also had a £7,500 compensation payout and invested £42,000 in two days, Burnley Crown Court heard.

Vickers, who has now paid all the money back and is on benefits again, admitted three counts of dishonestly failing to promptly notify a change in circumstances between May 2008 and April 2012.

The defendant, of Gisburn Road, Blacko, was given six months in prison suspended for a year. Natalia Cornwall, prosecuting, said Vickers initially claimed income support in July 2008 on the basis she was unfit for work and had no capital.

That later changed to employment and support allowance and was claimed until April 2012.

She also received council tax benefits, but investigations revealed she had capital in excess of the prescribed limit of £16,000.

In January 2008, the defendant had invested £22,000 in Liverpool and Victoria Investments. She put in a further £20,000 the day after.

Miss Cornwall said: “The defendant’s claim was fraudulent from the outset.” She said in November 2010, £7,500 was paid into Vickers' Marsden Building Society account.

The total value of her capital in April last year was £43,585.

She was interviewed under caution last April and said she knew what the prescribed capital limit was.

She said the £7,500 in her building society was compensation from an accident and the £42,000 she had invested in the Liverpool and Victoria was money left her by her mother and father.

She indicated she had spent some of the money on repairs to her house. Miss Cornwall said the total overpayment to Vickers in benefits was £28,930.87. She had no previous convictions.

Philip Holden, for Vickers, said she had many problems and was taking medication.

He said: “She is very unlikely to appear before this court or any court ever again.

“These proceedings have had something of a profound effect upon her, not least because of the problems she suffers, both of a psychiatric and physical nature.”

The barrister added that the defendant, who had paid the money back, was now claiming Jobseekers Allowance and had made a claim for Disability Living Allowance.