'Hoarder' kept his dead mother's body in the freezer to claim her benefits
A post-mortem showed the body had been hidden for around half a year
Published 10/03/2014 | 19:05
A 54-year-old “hoarder” has been given a suspended jail sentence after he concealed his dead mother’s body in a freezer at their home so he could claim her benefits.
The body of his 90-year-old mother, Louise Brough, was found last August in the freezer of their flat in Tyseley Road, Portsmouth.
A post-mortem examination showed that she died of natural causes but had been dead for around half a year.
Philipe Brough, of Charles Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to preventing a lawful and decent burial and to fraud.
He did not alert the Department for Work and Pensions that his mother had died in order to continue claiming her pension and the benefits he received for being her carer, the court heard.
Prosecutor Martyn Booth told Portsmouth Crown Court that Mrs Brough had moved to the flat in the 1970s when her son was aged 11 after her husband, and the defendant's father, had died.
He said that in recent years, Mrs Brough had been bed-bound and only occasionally seen out of the flat, while Mr Borough had given up his job in 2008 to be her full-time carer.
He added that concerns about her whereabouts were raised when Portsmouth City Council attempted to contact her in August to discuss extensive refurbishment that needed to be carried out at their council flat.
Mr Brough appeared evasive when asked about his mother and refused council staff access to the property, the court heard.
The police were alerted and Brough told officers his mother was living with an aunt in London.
When it became clear Mr Brough was lying, he was arrested on suspicion of murder and Mrs Brough was found in the freezer, Mr Booth said.
He added that following the police investigation, there was no suggestion that Brough caused or was involved in the death of his mother.
Describing the state of the flat when it was searched by police, Mr Booth said: “It was described as being in something of a state of disarray, it contained a large amount of property cluttering up most of the space in it.
”It was described as typical of the type of person one would associated with as a hoarder.“
He continued: ”As they cleared items out of it, they found in the corner of a room, hidden behind a mattress, an upright freezer which had been covered by a large cardboard box.
“Industrial tape was placed across the door seals, all designed to prevent the door opening accidentally.
Mr Booth said the total amount of benefits falsely claimed was £5,390 although Brough had since repaid £2,000 of this.
Defence lawyer Matthew Jewell said his client had a history of depression and had panicked when his mother had died.
He argued that Brough's was afriad he would lose his home following his mother's death and he had not set out to commit fraud.
Mr Jewell said: "This is not a wicked or evil offence, it's an offence borne of distress, depression of an emotional breakdown."
Mr Borough was sentenced to an eight-month term of imprisonment suspended for 12 months with a 12-month supervision order.
Judge Roger Hetherington said he accepted Brough had acted out of an ”emotional inability to cope“.
He said: "What is inexcusable is to embark on the elaborate course that you did involving a considerable deception over a period of time in dealing with your mother's death in the way that you did."