A RUNCORN mum has been found guilty of falsely claiming more than £8,000 in widow's benefit.

Melanie Clayton was widowed when her husband David died after being left on a hospital trolley for 24 hours at Warrington Hospital in 2001. He had suffered a bleed on the brain.

But, on Monday at Warrington Crown Court, a jury found her guilty of failing to inform the Department of Work and Pensions that she was living with her new fianc, firstly at his house on Causeway Avenue, in Warrington.

The jury also found that she had lived with him at the home she still lives in and for which they took out a joint mortgage, in Tunnel End, Preston-on-the Hill

The offences took place between November 2002 and April 2003 and September 2003 and March 2004.

She had denied two counts of benefit fraud claiming she had never lived with her former partner Ray McKenna, at the Causeway Avenue address and they had never lived together as a couple at the Tunnel End address.

The jury heard evidence from Ray McKenna, her daughter and sister-in-law as well as the couple's neighbours disputing her claims. The court was also shown school documents for her youngest daughter, which listed her address as Causeway Avenue.

Tunnel End neighbour Dr Iris Keating told the court that she thought they were living together and had once seen them kissing and cuddling in the garden.

Another school document listed her daughter as taking Mr McKenna's surname. In addition the court was shown the couple's joint mortgage details, and a £20,000 joint loan to buy a kitchen.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "Benefit cheats take money intended for the most vulnerable in our society. Our investigators have more powers than ever before."

The 41-year-old was bailed and will be sentenced on August 18.