A woman who “re-married” her husband after he told her he wanted a sex change has escaped jail after admitting a £33,000 benefit fraud.
Helen Ratcliffe’s “unusual circumstances” were taken into account by Judge Andrew Woolman at Burnley Crown Court when he gave her a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Ratcliffe (44) of Mosley Street, Barnoldswick, pleaded guilty to six counts of benefit fraud.
They included claims she lived alone following the separation from her husband Andrew Ratcliffe, now known as Kate Nuttall.
The couple renewed their vows after a civil ceremony after Andrew had undergone “gender realignment” operations.
Mr Philip Holden (defending) said: “Mrs Ratcliffe originally split up from her husband when he admitted to her he’d been secretly cross-dressing and wanted to be a woman.
“She was confused and didn’t know what was going to happen with the relationship.
“There’s no doubt they were unusual circumstances.
“Mrs Ratcliffe cares for two of her grandchildren under a care order, and if she was imprisoned this would collapse.”
Miss Kimberley Obrusik (prosecuting) told the crown court that between 2009 and 2012 Ratcliffe had three times fraudulently claimed for income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
She also admitted two charges of failing to declare to a local authority that she had a non-dependent living with her from February to November 2012, and one charge of falsely claiming disability living allowance.
Sentencing her, Judge Woolman said: “I take into account that when your husband informed you in 2007 that he wished to have a sex change it had a profound effect on you.”
Ratcliffe must re-pay the £33,111 overpayment she received.