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Radio swindler dodges jail

A woman who used a string of bogus identities to win prizes that included a £171,000 Magic FM jackpot narrowly avoided a jail sentence today.

London's Southwark Crown Court heard how Bright Bernadette Hurst worked from a specially equipped home office, where she forged fake documents and other paperwork, though her efforts came to nothing when voice recognition tests and other checks showed she was lying and denied her claiming any winnings.

Andrew Colman, prosecuting, said even after being arrested for attempting to swindle Magic FM, Capital FM and Virgin Radio, the excitement of winning proved too much for her and she entered another Capital FM competition, this time winning £15,000.

Hurst, who has been diagnosed with a personality disorder, admitted four counts of fraud between March 30 and July 11, 2007.

Passing sentence, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith told her: “You entered radio competitions when, because of previous prizes you had won, you knew you were not allowed to… I have to sentence you for four individual offences, the last of which is aggravated by the fact it was committed after you were first arrested.”

Hurst’s 40-week sentence is suspended for two years and she’s subject to a supervision order and a ban on entering any radio or television competition throughout that period. In addition, she’ll have to perform 150 hours unpaid work and pay a total of £11,000 towards costs.

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