A MOTHER-of-two who cheated the state out of more than £15,000 in benefits walked free from court today, Tuesday.

Hayley Ross failed to tell the authorities that her ex-partner had moved back in with her and went on claiming benefits.

Recorder Anthony Long said: "You continued for 15 months to steal from those in your community and in consequence you committed serious offences which are prevalent."

But he added that as she is a woman of good character and there is a prospect of her paying the money back he would suspend a six week prison sentence for 12 months.

"You have brought disgrace upon yourself and lost your good name. You knew perfectly well you should have declared that your personal circumstances had changed," he said.

He also ordered 31-year-old Ross, of Hand Lane, Leigh, to carry out 200 hours unpaid work. She had pleaded guilty to three benefit fraud offences.

Damian Nolan, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that Ross had initially been claiming benefits legitimately but in November 11 her ex-partner moved back in.

She did not declare this and continued to receive tax credits, income support and council tax benefit for 15 months.

Since her offending came to light she has repaid the council tax benefit but still owes £9,000, said Mr Nolan.