A woman from Watford will have to pay over £17,000 after pleading guilty to benefit fraud.

Ashley Norwood fraudulently claimed housing benefit and Council Tax from Watford Borough Council and Three Rivers District Council between November 2011 and May 2013.

Miss Norwood, previously of Newhouse Crescent, had been claiming housing benefit and Council Tax benefit for a property in Newhouse Crescent and a property in Coates Way after giving both councils with false tenancy agreements. The housing benefit overpayment totalled £14,136 and her council tax benefit overpayment was £3,002.

Miss Norwood appeared at St Albans Magistrates Court on January 16 where she pleaded guilty to four charges of benefit fraud.

She was sentenced to 12 weeks custody, suspended for 12 months in addition to a 12 month supervision order and 12 weeks curfew between 5pm and 6am. Additionally, she has to pay costs of £250 plus a victim surcharge of £85. All overpaid benefit must also be paid back in full.

The council were alerted to the fraud after the benefits team received the tenancy agreements.

Checks were made with the landlords of both properties and it was established that both agreements were false and that Miss Norwood had no entitlement liability to claim these benefits.