A 36-YEAR-OLD mum has appeared in court today accused of falsely claiming about £100,000 in State benefits - by pretending her young son had cancer.

The woman, from Berkeley, is alleged to have shaved the heads and eyebrows of her son from the age of about four to make it appear he was seriously ill and receiving treatment.

The alleged offences by the mum-of-five are said to have gone on for about seven years.

She appeared before magistrates in Gloucester accused of two offences of child cruelty and 15 offences of fraud and deception.

The magistrates bailed the woman - who cannot be named for legal reasons - until December 2 when she will be committed to Gloucester Crown Court for trial.

Proscutor Peter Ashby said: "The Crown case is that for about seven years she was claiming disability living allowance for the children. The alleged offences represent a value of about £100,000 in benefits paid."

He alleged that the woman had claimed her son had cancer and she would shave his eyebrows and head and make him wear a bandana when she went with him to school.

The prosecution has been brought by the Crown Prosecution Service with Stroud District Council, the Department of Work and Pensions and the Gloucestershire Child Protection Unit.

The first two charges allege that between January 1, 2008 and May 26, 2010 she assaulted, ill treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed her son and her daughter in ways that would cause suffering or injury.

She faces 11 charges of fraud alleging that she made false claims to obtain disability living allowance and four charges of forging letters from two GPs.

This week's appearance by the woman at Gloucester Magistrates court followed her appearing before Gloucester Crown Court on August 17 this year for related offences.

On that occasion she was jointly charged with a male defendant with perverting the course of justice and making false claims that her 10-year-old son was ill in order to obtain benefits.

She is next due before the Crown Court on those charges next week.