A mum who was convicted of benefit fraud after allowing her love cheat boyfriend to "occasionally" live with her has been spared jail.
Kelly Holden let her then partner to stay with her on a casual basis from 2012 but did not declare to the authorities that he was working.
As a result, the 35-year-old school volunteer was paid over £21,000 in income support, housing and council tax benefits she was not entitled to.
At Newcastle Crown Court Holden, of Newriggs, Fatfield, Washington, admitted two charges of benefit fraud.
Paul Rooney, defending, told the court: "He was living with her but not constantly throughout the period.
"He was dropping in and staying for a week or so and then moving on.
"It transpired, after they split up, he had actually been having several affairs while they were together, which was why he was staying occasionally."
The court heard Holden does volunteer work at two schools and has a place at college to train as a classroom assistant.
She has started paying back the money she was overpaid.
Judge Edward Bindloss said: "Normally, people who commit these crimes are sent to prison because of the dishonesty element involved."
But the judge said Holden, who was described in character references as a loving mother who was capable, trustworthy and supportive of others, could be spared.
Judge Bindloss told her: "You are not the normal sort of person to appear before me.
"It is clear to me you are a good mother, a capable mother, a capable person.
"I take the view everyone is entitled to make one mistake in life, let this be yours."
Holden, who has no previous convictions, was sentenced to a community order for 12 months with 100 hours unpaid work.