A BENEFITS cheat who claimed over £40,000 after saying she had separated from her husband has been jailed.

Leona Blair, 49, of South Avenue, Blairhall, was able to live a lifestyle which included holidaying in the USA as a result of her crime in which she received a total of £46,764.23.

Appearing at Dunfermline Sheriff Court for sentencing on Wednesday, she had previously admitted that on various occasions between between July 20, 2013, and April 21, 2016, at Blair Grove, Blairhall, she made a false statement to the Department of Work and Pensions that she lived alone except for her dependent children when she was living with a partner and she thereby obtained £23,135.71 to which she was not entitled.

She also admitted that on various occasions between April 6, 2013, and March 4, 2016, she was concerned in fraudulent activity by failing to declare she was living with a partner and maintaining a common household with him, obtaining £23,628.52 to which she was not entitled.

Blair's solicitor said his client had "many difficulties" both personal and through a physical condition which were causing her ongoing problems.

He added: "It would appear that the difficulties she got herself into has resulted in strengthening her relationship with her current partner and it is likely she is not going to be back in court in any way, shape or form."

Sheriff Charles Macnair told Blair she had fraudulently taken money from the DWP and HM Revenue and Customs on the basis that she was separated from her husband when she knew this was false.

"Your husband was in employment although, from the type of employment he was in, it would not be of the highest pay and your fraudulent income, in my view, must have made a very significant impact on the total household income.

"It would appear that, as a family during the period that you were claiming this benefit fraudulently, you were able to live a lifestyle which would not have been justified had you not committed the fraud. For example, taking foreign holidays to the United States of America.

"Benefit fraud of this sort is relatively easy to commit. It is difficult to trace often and a lot of effort had to go into establishing your fraud."

Sheriff Macnair said there was no appropriate non custodial sentence and jailed Blair for 12 months.