A woman lied about giving birth in a 'brazenly dishonest' bid to avoid jail.

Heather McCarthy, 33, had been prosecuted after being found to have defrauded a recruitment company she had worked for.

She initially avoided jail, after telling the court that she had given birth to her first child in January 2020.

The judge who gave her a suspended sentence said he had taken McCarthy at her word, not believing anyone 'would be so brazenly dishonest'.

But after her claims were found to be untrue, the same judge has now jailed her for eight months after McCarthy admitted being in contempt of court.

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Judge Paul Lawton told her: "It was an outrageous untruth in the face of the court, and it evidences a willingness by you to lie whatever the circumstances, and whatever the potential consequences.

"How you thought you would not be found out is beyond me."

Manchester Crown Court heard that McCarthy, from Liverpool, had worked for Bury-based Paragon Meed as a recruitment consultant.

McCarthy resigned from her job but an investigation by the firm revealed she had used the details of two former employees to transfer £7,700 into her own account.

She admitted fraud by abuse of position.

In November last year, she appeared before the crown court for sentencing and received an eight-month suspended sentence.

McCarthy had 'recently disclosed' that she had a child, saying she had kept it a secret because she claimed to have suffered from post-natal depression.

At today's hearing Judge Lawton told her: "I am quite satisfied that you knew any judge dealing with a single mother would only separate mother and child as a measure of last resort.

"I made it clear that it was only that recently-disclosed information that persuaded me to suspend the inevitable prison sentence."

But after it became clear she had lied about having a child, she was arrested and charged with contempt of court.

Now McCarthy will have to serve her eight-month sentence in prison. She appeared in court on video link from HMP Styal in Cheshire.

McCarthy, of Tewkesbury Close, West Derby, Liverpool, was previously jailed for 12 weeks for another fraud, stealing £4,800 from a lettings agency she worked for.

Defending, Tom McKail said that McCarthy 'panicked' when she appeared in court in November.

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He said she is remorseful and 'completely ashamed', acknowledging 'she has only herself to blame'.

Prosecutor Craig Macgregor said a Proceeds of Crime investigation would take place, with a hearing set for May.

Sentencing, Judge Lawton told McCarthy: "Before I sentenced you on November 27, 2020, I was informed that you were a single mother, having given birth to your first child in January 2020.

"You said that you had not disclosed this to anyone because you had been suffering from post-natal depression.

"If that had been true, it might have been understandable.

"I told you that I would take you at your word, not least because I could not imagine that anyone in your position would be so brazenly dishonest.

"You were however warned that if that information was dishonest, it would be treated as a serious contempt of court.

"That brazen dishonesty was a calculated ploy by you, to manipulate the sentencing exercise in your favour.

"As recently as last week you were emailing your lawyers stating that a relative was retrieving your child's birth certificate from storage.

"The consequences are obvious, that which persuaded me to suspend sentence upon you simply did not exist."