A RETIRED ex-patriot falsely claimed housing benefits and a state pension while living in France.

Janis O’Loughlin admitted defrauding the Department of Work and Pensions and Brighton and Hove City Council when she appeared in court last month.

The 70-year-old had been living Sainte Ann Sur Vilaine in Brittany, but took the benefits that she was not entitled to.

But following an investigation, it was alleged she had received £34,000 in total.

At a previous court hearing in September prosecutor Andrew Walker said the sum was amassed between 2013 and 2016.

She originally claimed that she had not been living abroad when the sums were claimed, but at Brighton Magistrates’ Court she admitted both fraud charges.

But the final total for her false claims is not known.

Magistrates imposed two six-month suspended prison sentences, and ordered her to pay court costs of £250 and a victim surcharge of £115.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it prosecutes more than 5,000 people each year for fraud.

In a statement the department said: “Only a small minority of benefit claimants are dishonest, but cases like this show how we are catching the minority who cheat the system and divert taxpayers' money from those who need it.”