A Turkish pensioner who was handed a council house and £177,000 in benefits after pretending to be Scottish is facing arrest after she failed to turn up for sentence.
Wheelchair-bound Catherine Maloney, who claims to be 62, first applied for asylum in the UK in 2002 under her Turkish name Katrin Butun. The application was rejected, she appealed the decision but lost.
Maloney then ‘remembered’ she had been born in Scotland in 2004 and produced a birth certificate in the name of Catherine Lynch – believed to be a Scottish ex-pat. She later changed her name by deed poll to Catherine Bridget Maloney and applied for a UK passport.
Maloney successfully applied for a council house on Bramley Hill, South Croydon, and pocketed £177,000 in income support allowance, housing benefit, council tax benefit and disability living allowance between April 2004 and July 2015.
The Turk, who is thought to be much older than 62, was arrested following an investigation by the Department of Work and Pensions and was convicted of three counts of dishonest representation to obtain a benefit in August last year.
Maloney, who speaks no English, refused to give evidence at her trial. She claims to not be able to pay back any of the money despite allegedly owning properties in Bodrum, Turkey.
Since her conviction she has been staying in the Gresham psychiatric ward in Beckenham, part of the Bethlem Royal Hospital, at the expense of the taxpayer, but it is unclear what her symptoms are.
Maloney was due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court today but refused to leave the ward.
Judge Owen Davies QC issued a warrant for Maloney’s arrest and said: ‘I know it is distasteful sending a woman to prison who is in a wheelchair but I do not believe a word she says. This case is going back some time now, I should at least find out from a doctor what her state of health is, or was, or might be. It is alleged she has properties in Bodrum in Turkey. There is no report of how she will repay the £177,000 not to mention the cost to the public of the care home where she currently resides is still outstanding.’
Speaking at an earlier hearing Judge Davies said: ‘This is a woman who has got no right to be in the country, has been here for many years at the public’s expense and has been convicted without her giving evidence at all in relation to a large amount of public funds.'