A BENEFITS cheat, who fraudulently pocketed more than £27,000, has avoided jail.

Ruby Hall, 56, of Nightingale Grove, Basildon, said she was out of work for four years despite working as a receptionist.

Altogether she claimed £27,358 of employment benefit between 2007 and 2011.

Basildon Crown Court heard on Tuesday Mrs Hall did not tell the Department of Work and Pensions she was  working more than 16 hours a week at a Basildon surgery.

Judge George Pulman sentenced her to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.