'Hero gran' Tammy Gatting is actually £6,000 benefits cheat
A WOMAN hailed as a "hero gran" two years ago after she head-butted a man who attempted to mug her has been unmasked as a benefits cheat.
Tammy Rosita Gatting, 50, was left without wheels in April 2011 when youths tipped her out of her old scooter in a robbery attempt, damaging it beyond repair.
She made headlines around the world thanks to the courage she showed in fighting off the robbers.
She also gave an interview to the Journal, after she was labelled a scrounger in comments posted on several news websites.
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At the time Gatting, of 11 Stoat Park, Whiddon Valley, Barnstaple, said: "I have always said I will not accept hand-outs and I still haven't.
"I paid for my new scooter fair and square and I am fed up with people labelling me as scrounger."
But when she appeared at North Devon Magistrates' Court on Friday she admitted falsely claiming benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and North Devon Council between January 2011 and October 2011.
This is at the same time as she was telling the Journal she was not a scrounger.
Karen Ball, for the prosecution, told magistrates Gatting had claimed benefits as a single person and failed to inform the DWP or North Devon Council her husband had moved back in with her.
Fraud inspectors staked out Gatting's house and saw Mr Gatting was living at the address, said Miss Ball.
She revealed Gatting had falsely claimed more than £2,500 in income support, around £3,300 of housing benefit and £663 in council tax benefits.
In total Gatting claimed £6,709.08 she was not entitled to.
Tony Dart, for the defence, said Gatting had been estranged from her husband, known as Gaffer to his friends, for several years.
But after Gatting had a number of strokes he began visiting the house to help her out.
Mr Dart said: "He returned to keep an eye on her as he knew she wasn't quite right.
"He would pop in to walk the dog before returning to the caravan park he lived at. They realised it seemed a bit stupid going backwards and forwards and he began to stay there."
In October 2011 the couple informed the DWP Mr Gatting had returned to the house, ending the false claims.
Presiding magistrate Roger Jackson told Gatting: "You could be facing six weeks in prison, so this is at the serious end of things."
But given Gatting's failing health he imposed a 12-week curfew rather than a custodial sentence and ordered her to pay costs of £20.
She was also told to pay back the money and is already repaying the DWP with £10.15 deducted from her benefits each week.