A Workington woman illegally claimed almost £25,000 in disability benefits while she was secretly working - mostly as a professional carer.

Amanda Leggett, 49, admitted two offences of failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions that her health had improved while she claimed disability living allowance and employment support allowance.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that the defendant, who lived in Workington but worked in a Carlisle care home, was paid disability living allowance since 2004.

Her claim was illegal over four years when her health improved. Claimants are told to disclose any information that might affect their claim - including any health improvements, said Tim Evans, prosecuting.

But between March 2014 and May of last year Leggett, of St Michael’s Road, Workington, had five jobs. For some jobs, she filled out health questionnaires in which she denied having the very medical conditions she had used to justify her benefit claims.

Her first job was in a shop but the subsequent four were as a professional carer in care homes.

Outlining the medical conditions Leggett said she had, Mr Evans said she filled out forms saying she had arthritis, spondylosis, depression and anxiety.

‘She said she needed help every day of the week with preparing and cooking her main meal,” said the barrister.

“She said she had restricted movement in her neck.” On her claim form, she said it was dangerous for her to cook any main meal. This fact was used to justify the care component of her claim.

Those claims were clearly untrue because she was working, said Mr Evans. She did not mention those medical conditions when filling out paperwork for her care home jobs.

Some of her care home duties included preparing meals, and at times lifting patients. One recent job involved her working gruelling 12-hour shifts; and she also worked in a more demanding dementia unit in Carlisle.

The amount she illegally claimed was £24,975.

Karen Tunnacliffe, for Leggett, said the claim was not dishonest from the outset and the defendant did suffer physical and mental ailments. “But they’re not as bad as when she made her claim,” she added.

Judge Peter Davies said of Leggett: “She told fib, after fib, after fib.”

He told her: “You have stolen almost £25,000. No other way of putting it....You have been stealing £100 a week for four years on the basis of lying to your employer - or lying to the state about your medical circumstances. It’s one or the other.

“It’s intolerable.”The judge imposed six month jail, suspending the sentence for two years. Leggett must do 100 hours of unpaid work.

There will be a Proceeds of Crime hearing on July 2.