Benefits shame of trainer
A showjumping trainer turned to benefit fraud to fund her lifestyle after she left behind a national coaching job in Dubai to care for her daughter.
Yvonne Thomas, 63, left her high flying job as an export sales representative in the United Arab Emirates – where she also coached a national show-jumping team – and returned to the UK with her disabled daughter, following the breakdown of her marriage.
When a horseriding accident left her unable to work or prepare a hot meal for herself she started claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to support herself.
However Thomas, of Rookwood Avenue, Anchorsholme, failed to notify the DWP and her local authority when her health improved and she took on a part time job as a cleaner.
From October 2005 to June 2014 she claimed £31,916.98 she was not entitled to in order to supplement her now modest lifestyle.
Jon Close, prosecuting, said: “She worked as a cleaner from 5 October 2005. Her needs were not what was stated on her initial claim for DLA and she had been receiving payment as a cleaner.”
Richard Gray, defending, told the court Thomas had lost the three great passions in her life: her husband and daughter; her career in Dubai and her equestrian talents.
He said: “She was wrenched away from her job to start a new life with no money and a daughter who suffered cerebral palsy.
“Unfortunately for Mrs Thomas and her daughter two things happened. There was a bequest by a family will. Mrs Thomas acted as a trustee.
“A wretched individual entered their lives who consistently asked for money from her daughter...to the point where even a few trinkets of jewellery which were relatively worthless were constantly pawned by a man who to all intents and purposes had the morals of a pimp.”
On Christmas Eve 2014 Thomas received the news her daughter had choked to death in the shower while on holiday with the unnamed man and had to undergo the difficult process of repatriating her body alone.
Mr Gray said: “In normal circumstances it is difficult to bring up children and the distractions of men entering their life, and wanting to fly the nest is difficult enough.
“Coupled with the horrific injury that Mrs Thomas suffered at the hands of her beloved horses, really facilitated an attitude not really of apathy but not of deliberate criminality either.”
Thomas pleaded guilty to four counts of benefit fraud.
Recorder Andrew McLoughlin, sentencing, said: “Your personal difficulties are quite understandable in trying to assist your daughter in living as natural a lifestyle as possible.W
The judge handed Thomas a six month sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered her to carry out 60 hours of unpaid work.
A proceeds of crime hearing has been scheduled for June 8.
• A man accused of the historical multiple rape of a boy aged eight to nine has made his first appearance at court.
Scott Murphy, 23, of Mains Lane, Poulton, is charged with three offences of raping the boy and three offences of sexually assaulting him.
The offences are alleged to have taken place between August 2008 and August 2010 at Poulton.
Murphy was bailed to appear at Preston Crown Court on March 16 by Blackpool magistrates.
He must not have any unsupervised contact with a child under 16, except for inadvertent contact, as a condition of his bail.
• A man accused of assaulting a former girlfriend has appeared at court.
James Dolan, 25, of Chatsworth Road, Fleetwood, pleaded not guilty to breaching a non-molestation order and assault.
The offences are alleged to have have taken place at Fleetwood on February 12.
Dolan was bailed to March 21 for trial by District Judge Roger Lowe sitting at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.
He must not contact his ex or enter the port’s Windsor Terrace as conditions of his bail.
• A benefits cheat who pocketed thousands from the public purse was caught out when her fiancé posted news of their engagement on Facebook.
Katie Burton found herself in even deeper trouble when fraud investigators discovered she had also worked at two bar jobs while illegally claiming.
Burton, a 26-year-old mother, of Lancaster Road, Knott End, pleaded guilty to dishonestly making a false statement and dishonestly failing to notify a change in her circumstances.
She was given a two year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £15 victims’ surcharge by Blackpool magistrates.
Pam Smith, prosecuting said when fraud investigators interviewed Burton she at first denied living with Luke Conroy, but it was then pointed out that he had posted the news of their engagement on his Facebook page.
Burton had also done bar work at Knott End Working Men’s Club and the Bourne Arms while claiming.
Between October 2011 and December 2014 Burton swindled £4,235 in Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support from the public purse.
Hugh Pond, defending, said his client, who had no previous convictions, had been the sole breadwinner. At one stage Burton’s partner had left her when she was pregnant. Mr Pond added: “He seems a young man incapable of work. He, I think, is too lazy to work. He is living in the house and living off her benefits.”
• A man accused of stealing a bottle of brandy from Fleetwood’s Super News and Booze shop on New Year’s Eve has been put on the wanted list.
Chris Grundy, 35, of Bold Street, Fleetwood, had a warrant without bail issued for his arrest by Blackpool magistrates after he failed to attend court.
• A man accused of sexually molesting a teenage girl at Blackpool has made his first appearance at court.
Jake Jackson, 24, of Poulton Road, Fleetwood, pleaded not guilty to engaging in sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl in June last year.
Jackson was bailed to appear at Preston Crown Court on March 9 by District Judge David Scanlon sitting at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.
He must not have any unsupervised contact with females under 16 except for inadvertent content as a condition of his bail.
• A carer stole almost £13,000 from an 88-year-old pensioner she looked after at his home.
Ashleigh Galbraith systematically pocketed and forged her elderly charge’s cheques over 13 months.
Her callous thefts only came to light after the pensioner’s niece got power of attorney to handle his affairs and saw large sums had been taken from his bank account.
Galbraith, 24, of Windward Avenue, Fleetwood, pleaded guilty to four offences of fraud and asked for eight similar offences to be considered.
Martine Connah, prosecuting, said Galbraith had breached the trust of a vulnerable victim and asked for her to be sentenced by a judge at crown court.
Galbraith was bailed to appear for sentence at Preston Crown Court on March 9 by Blackpool magistrates. She must not work in a professional capacity as a carer as a condition of her bail.
The prosecutor, said Galbraith had been employed by KTG Home Care Services, and worked at the pensioner’s home in Staining.
The pensioner had been diagnosed with dementia three years ago after forgetting where he was driving to.
Galbraith visited the pensioner’s home twice a day to give him care to enable him to remain in his own home.
In August last year the pensioner’s niece got power of attorney over his affairs. She saw large sums had been withdrawn from his account and contacted the bank which said the money had gone to Galbraith.
Between June 1, 2014, and March 16, last year Galbraith had taken cheques, forged the pensioner’s signature and made them out to herself. She stole a total of £12,900.
When questioned Galbraith told police she was low on money, she had lost a job and a family member had died.
Defence lawyer, Patrick Nelligan, said his client had no previous convictions.
• A convicted sex offender was too ill to attend a court hearing Blackpool magistrates were told.
Peter Owen, 37, of North Promenade, Cleveleys, is charged with failing to comply with his sex offenders registration order by not telling police of his details.
Brett Chappell, defeinding, entered a plea of guilty on his client’s behalf to the offence.
Mr Chappell said that Owen had arrived at the courthouse but them become unwell and gone home. Owen’s case was adjourned.
• A 24 year old Thornton woman took the law into her own hands when her partner was locked out of a house.
The estate agent had changed the locks on the rented property when the woman moved out.
However she left behind some clothes and childrens’ toys,Blackpool Magistrates heard.
She returned with friend Chelsea Harkin of Wareham Drive, Thornton, at night.
Harkin kicked in a door panel to get into the garage and remove the toys. Then she broke a window pane to inside the house and remove the clothing.
Harkin admitted criminal damage when she appeared at court.Pam Smith,prosecuting, said that Harkin had been offered a conditional caution is she paid £132-50 towards repairing the damage.
When she failed to pay the money she was summonsed to court.
Magistrates issued a compensation order and told Harkin to pay £85 court costs.
• A drunken man tried to provoke a police officer into fighting with him repeatedly telling him “come on then.”
Andrew Carr had to be threatened with pepper spray and restrained and when cautioned he replied “I’m going to kill you.”
Carr, 47, of Springfield Terrace, Fleetwood, pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly.
He was fined £80 with £85 costs and ordered to pay £20 victims’ surcharge by Blackpool magistrates.
Prosecutor, Martine Connah, said an officer came out of Fleetwood police station on January 25 about 1am, and saw Carr on Bold Street gesturing at him with two fingers.
There were people in the street and Carr then started shouting obscenities at the officer.
He kept advancing on the officer trying to get him to fight and the officer had to push him back. Once arrested and put in a van he was extremely aggressive.
At the time of the offence he was in breach of a suspended prison sentence and a conditional discharge.
Suzanne Mugford, defending, said her client had been diagnosed with depression and was having investigations to see if he suffered from bi-polar disorder.
Before the offence he had run out of his medication. He was finding it very difficult to sleep so he turned to alcohol.