A Cardiff woman has been jailed for nine months after admitting that she defrauded the state over the past several years following a “sham” marriage.

Maria Wall, 43, claimed income support, rent and council tax totalling £60,000 despite marrying gay labourer David Davies in 1997.

The mother of five argued that her marriage was forced upon her through the circumstances that she was in at the time of meeting Davies, 48.

At the time the family were living at a women’s refuge in Cardiff.

In court Wall’s barrister Peter Harding-Roberts said: “It was a sham, a ‘lavender marriage’ to a homosexual man who didn’t sleep with her or live in the same house.”

Maria Wall told the court “he has never supported me,” the South Wales Echo reports.

She added that it was because she had got into debt and was paying her husband back.

Wall’s husband was called into the court on her behalf, confirming that he was gay and living at another address with a man in Penarth, near Cardiff.

He said that he had proposed to her after hearing about how she had ended up staying in temporary refuge accommodation.

“I thought if she made a commitment and married someone it would deter anyone from pestering her” Davies told the court.

Carl Harrison, acting for the Department of Work and Pensions, pointed out that Davies had official post sent to Walls address in Tremorfa, Cardiff, and had also paid the water rates.

Judge John Curran told Wall that “whether Mr Davies has homosexual tendencies or not is not the issue.”

The Judge added that Wall “concealed the fact you had married and £60,000 of public money went down the drain. You had a husband who was working so you would not have been entitled to benefits.”

Wall admitted four of the charges, asking for 184 to be considered.