Fast-food employee in court on birthday

A HOME CARER faced court on her 41st birthday for claiming an allowance while working at McDonald’s restaurant.

A court heard that Donna Woolley wrongly received £19,152 over eight years until civil servants discovered she had a job, which would have affected her allowance as a carer.

A 12-week prison term, suspended for a year, was imposed on Woolley, of New Street, South Normanton. She was also ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

District Judge Parkash Aujla told her: “It must have crossed your mind that what you were doing was wrong. Nevertheless you carried on and that is an aggravating feature.

“The intention of the court is not only to sentence the person before it, but to pass a message that there are penalties for what you have done.”

Woolley admitted failing to notify a change of circumstances between June, 2002, and June, 2010. She must pay £100 prosecution costs at a rate of £10 weekly.

Moira Bell, prosecuting, said Woolley was correctly paid carer’s allowance from August, 1998, because of the support she was giving to her grandmother.

An investigation began in December 2009 when it appeared she was paying National Insurance contributions as an employee. It was later found she was working at a McDonald’s branch in Alfreton, added Mrs Bell.

Aisling Wall, mitigating, said Woolley had never been in trouble before and was appearing in court on her birthday. Woolley’s grandmother had trouble getting around the home and also suffered from agoraphobia, so was unable to go out shopping.

“She was cleaning, cooking and shopping for her grandmother and was originally a full-time carer. She had young children, her husband was struggling to find work and was suffering long periods of unemployment,” said Ms Wall.

In 2008, the family home was re-possessed and her grandmother died in 2010. She is still working at McDonald’s, earning £900 monthly with half of that going on her rent, added Ms Wall.