A BENEFIT cheat who swindled the taxpayer out of more than £46,000 has been given a chance to stay out of jail — if she shows remorse by attempting to pay back the cash.

At Bolton Crown Court mum-of-three Claire Bostock stood in the dock after admitting claiming income support and housing benefit for six years that she was not entitled to.

Bostock, aged 31, of Great Holme, Great Lever, dishonestly failed to notify the authorities that she was living as husband and wife with her partner, Jonathan Sykes, between November 2012 and August 2018.

Bostock, who has no previous convictions, wept in the dock as she told Judge Timothy Stead: "I am so, so sorry."

She had pleaded guilty to committing the fraud offences. The total amount she wrongly received was £46,773.58.

Mark Friend, defending said that Bostock was willing to repay the money but had found it too difficult.

However, the judge suggested that , although unemployed with children aged under 10, "there must be something she can pay by way of an appropriate amount and none is currently being deducted".

Judge Stead told Bostock that although a short prison sentence is warranted for the offence, she can avoid it if she proves her remorse and deferred sentence until February 3.

He told Bostock: "If you have committed no further offence and have actually made regular repayments, insofar as you can afford it, without default and not simply sitting back and waiting for someone else to take action, it will appear to me that you are genuinely remorseful.

"If you do that, you won't be going to prison, and that's a promise.If you fail the promise doesn't apply and it might be bad for you."

Keep up to date with the latest court and crime stories - click here to join our Facebook group