A woman who fabricated illnesses in her two children so that she could claim £375,000 in benefits has been jailed for seven and a half years.
The 48-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, forced her children to have surgery they did not need as part of a 10-year fraud. She tricked doctors into fitting gastronomy tubes to their stomachs even though both children were able to eat normally.
She was sentenced following a conviction last month at Croydon crown court for child cruelty and fraud offences.
DS Stuart Parsons said after her sentencing on Monday: “It is staggering to think that the mother’s wilful actions resulted in the children undergoing unnecessary surgical and medical interventions. She lied at every opportunity, presenting herself as a lone parent coping with ill and vulnerable children. The reality was that she resided with her partner and fabricated her children’s conditions for personal financial gain".
Over at least 10 years, the mother presented her son and daughter to doctors and education professionals, maintaining that they suffered from serious health conditions.
Between October 2003 and February 2014 she falsely claimed £375,198 in disability living allowances and income support. This was despite living with her partner, who earned £38,000 a year.
She forced her children to fake symptoms of illnesses, ranging from asthma to autism and urology problems, to secure her benefits.
Steroids were given to her son even though he did not have severe asthma, as she claimed. She also had her son mimic behaviour consistent with autism and, as part of the fraud, resisted attempts by the child’s nursery to toilet-train him.
The trial was the culmination of a three-year investigation. Police raided the woman’s home and arrested her in May 2013 after suspicions of fraud were raised. During the search they found a large quantity of items with an estimated cost to the NHS of £145,870, including asthma drugs and feeding equipment.
The woman was found guilty of four counts of cruelty to a person under 16, two counts of obtaining money transfer by deception, seven counts of making a false representation, and two counts of fraud by false representation.