first_imgEmma Howard The defendant has a catalogue of personal circumstances which makes her extremely vulnerable and caused her to make these false claimsShirlie Duckworth, defending A yoga teacher has avoided jail for a £7,000 benefits fraud after claiming she has been suffering from “cluster headaches” following a bitter break-up from her husband.Emma Howard, 45, had £45,000 in savings yet made claims for income support and council tax after falsely claiming she only had £300 in the bank.The mother of three took £7,000 before caught following an investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions.The fraudulent claims began a month after Howard, who also teaches drama, had split from her husband amid a string of arguments. The couple had met when she was living in Hong Kong and they married in 2004, but split in 2010. Emma Howard outside Manchester Crown CourtCredit:Pat Isaacs/Cavendish She added: “She has since been diagnosed with cluster headaches and anxiety. She is desperate to carry on her work teaching yoga and drama and she wants to work with children.”Really her main responsibility is to be the sole career of her son and she receives a care allowance of £50 a week to care for him.”In 2015, her father passed away and some of the money left by him has been used to start paying back some of the money to the council.”I do invite the court to credit the guilty plea, together with no element of dishonesty and her personal circumstances and no previous convictions.”This defendant has a great number of responsibilities as a single mother of three children of which one requires a great deal of care.”Passing sentence, Judge Martin Steiger QC said: “There is no useful purpose of any penalty other than a conditional discharge. Daily demands to complete unpaid work would be unfair on the boy himself.” She is currently the sole carer of their children, including their 10-year-old disabled son who suffers from learning difficulties and autism.At Manchester Crown Court, Howard, from Stretford, wept as she pleaded guilty to making false claims relating to council tax and income support dating back to March 2010. She was given a 12 -month conditional discharge after she vowed to pay the money back.Shirlie Duckworth, defending, said: “The defendant has a catalogue of personal circumstances which makes her extremely vulnerable and caused her to make these false claims.”She lived in Hong Kong for part of her life and it was there that she met her husband from whom she is now estranged. She got married in 2004 and gave birth in 2005 to her first child.”She then gave birth to her second son who is now 10 years old and who suffers from learning difficulties and is also autistic. He has the mental age of a three or four year old. He cannot use cutlery and has to eat with hands.”He cannot dress himself and his behaviour makes it difficult to build relationships within the family. Having a child with learning difficulties as well as two other children is something which is difficult for her to cope with as a single mother.”In April 2010 she had just split with her husband and in May 2010 the false applications were made.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more