29 Nov 2014

Benefit thief's bail cancelled

Handcuffed to a prison officer, wealthy benefits cheat Caroline Foxley headed to custody following fears she was preparing to flee to Russia.

The 59-year-old was suspected of trying to leave the country ahead of her sentencing after attempting to move £40,000 to a bank in Moscow.

A court heard she had also made a fresh application to claim benefits within a day of being convicted last month of illegally taking £20,000 in handouts for ‘pocket money’.

The ‘greedy’ mother-of-two used the welfare system even though she had cash in a Swiss bank from the £306,000 sale of a Cotswolds home which she used to fund her children's expensive private school education.

Foxley was on bail awaiting sentence when she was summoned back to court on Thursday amid fears she was preparing to flee the country.

Prosecutors called for her bail to be rescinded after describing how she had also defied a court order to surrender her passport.

Gloucester Crown Court was told how Foxley made contact on Tuesday with Swiss bank Habibsons, where she had deposited the remains of the money from the £306,000 property sale.

She was said to have been ‘anxious’ to transfer £40,000 from the account to her son’s bank account in Moscow.

Prosecutor Martin Steen said: ‘She still has her passport and is seeking to transfer funds to Moscow, perhaps in preparation for flight. She is also seeking to move it outside the realm where she may be able to make recompense for the loss. In the absence of her abiding by her bail conditions and taking steps to move money we are concerned she will not attend for sentence.’

Judge Jamie Tabor QC agreed to the prosecution’s request and remanded Foxley in custody until sentencing.

He said: ‘This lady has been obtaining benefits for a long time and has a Swiss bank account with a lot of money in it. It would appear it has still got a bit of money in it because she tried to move it earlier this week.’ During her trial, Foxley admitted that the Swiss bank account was in her name, but regarded the money from the sale of the house bought by her late partner as ‘in trust’ for him and, after his death, for their children.

She claimed she did not use the money except to pay for schooling and other expenses for her children.

But trial prosecutors said the money disqualified her from benefits that are only open to those with assets of less than £16,000. Foxley had once qualified for income support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, council tax and housing benefits but only until March 30, 2007 – when she earned £306,000 from the sale of the house near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire.

She paid the money into a bank account in India and began using it to pay for schooling at Malvern College, Bloxham School in Banbury and Cheltenham Ladies’ College – where fees start at more than £21,000 a year. The remainder of the money was then ‘spirited away’ to Zurich.

Referring to Switzerland’s tight-lipped bankers as ‘the Gnomes of Zurich’, trial prosecutor Stephen Mooney suggested Foxley was keen to make the most of the country’s famously secretive finance laws. He added: ‘No doubt she was taking advantage of the notorious and well-documented reluctance of the Gnomes of Zurich to give out information about their bank accounts.’

Mr Mooney said Foxley had treated the benefits as ‘pocket money to top up a wealthy lifestyle.’


No comments: