Sunday 17 December 2017

Benefit cheats spend £135,000 on sun holidays

Sam Marsden in London

The holiday snaps show a couple who could afford to live extravagantly, flying around the world on exotic holidays.

Rose Jones and her husband, Reg, enjoyed scuba diving, skiing and golfing trips, and visited the Maldives, Indonesia and Mexico among other places.

But, as far as the welfare authorities knew, Mrs Jones was bedridden with pain from a back condition and collecting £135,000 (€168,511) in state handouts.

Mrs Jones told the authorities she was suffering from a severe spinal complaint and the effects of a stroke, leaving her barely able to sit in a chair, climb the stairs or open a bottle of wine.

Her husband, a former Parachute Regiment soldier, said he was his wife's carer and needed working tax credits to help meet his bills as he struggled to set up a dog grooming company. The couple, both 53, also joined a yacht club, bought a motor home and acquired the number plate B1G REG.

Their jet-setting came to an end when Mrs Jones ran off with her German scuba instructor and each tried to blame the other for the fraud during their trial.

Canterbury Crown Court heard that the couple, from Ramsgate, Kent, visited the Maldives and Indonesia on scuba diving courses and travelled to Canada, Mexico and Jamaica for holidays, while Mrs Jones held down two full-time jobs.

Mrs Jones walked out on the marriage in 2010 after her affair with Udo Kefrig, the diving instructor.

She told the court her husband forced her to sign the benefits forms to get him the luxuries of which he dreamed. She maintained that she had a degenerative spinal condition but that her "violent and controlling" husband had bullied her into working.

"He liked money. He liked big things, expensive cars like Range Rovers," she said.

Bedridden

Helen Guest, prosecuting, said the couple kept up their pretence from 1994 to 2010. In one official document, Mrs Jones wrote: "I am bedridden . . . my back condition is deteriorating."

However, in 2000 she got a job as a caretaker for the UK Ministry of Defence and also worked as a head concierge in London. Ms Guest said: "Mrs Jones was clearly capable of working, managing to hold down two jobs simultaneously."

Mrs Jones admitted 10 offences of cheating the taxpayer and was found guilty on two others.

Her husband was convicted on seven fraud charges. The couple were bailed for sentencing next month. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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