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The £135 000 benefit cheat

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AP

London - A benifits cheat who claimed she was so frail she couldn’t even open a bottle of wine was caught out after she was pictured scuba-diving at exotic foreign locations.

Rose Jones, 53, pocketed more than £135 000 of UK taxpayers’ money after convincing benefit chiefs she was unsteady on her feet and bed-ridden most of the time.

She claimed to have a spinal condition which left her immobile and on a variety of painkillers, and to be suffering the effects of a stroke which left her unable to sit in a chair or climb stairs.

Her husband, former Paratrooper Reginald Jones, 53, told authorities he was struggling to set up a dog grooming company and needed working tax credits to help meet his bills.

But the couple were living a lavish lifestyle travelling to exotic hideaways, including the Maldives and Indonesia for scuba-diving courses.

A UK court heard the Joneses had joined a yacht club and gone on golfing and skiing trips to Canada, Mexico, Romania, Bulgaria, Jamaica and Spain.

It was funded by Mrs Jones claiming Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance and her husband claiming Carer’s Allowance and Working Tax Credits over a 16-year period.

The couple, from Ramsgate, Kent, whose marriage has now broken down, also owned a motor home and had a personalised number plate – B1G REG.

Mr Jones told the jury his wife went on secret scuba-diving and skiing trips behind his back to Abu Dhabi, Egypt and Panama with a scuba-diving instructor who had become her lover. She now lives with the man in Germany,

Far from being unable to work, Mrs Jones was employed from March 1996 until February 2000 by a care homes company in Margate.

She then held down two full-time jobs at the same time, one as a caretaker and one as a concierge.

Helen Guest, prosecuting, told the jury that from 1994 to 2010 the couple kept up the pretence to officials that Mrs Jones was unable to work because of her crippling condition.

In one official document Mrs Jones wrote: ‘I cannot bend or kneel or pick up a piece of paper from the floor.

‘Have problems sitting in a chair for five minutes and back tends to lock and it hurts to get up. I am bed-ridden... my back condition is deteriorating... I cannot walk for more than 50 metres without stopping or feeling severe discomfort.

‘I have problems with stairs and am also unable to open a bottle of wine.’

The court heard Mrs Jones told authorities she could not wash and dress without the help of her husband ‘because my back locks’. In 1997 she claimed she had ‘a severe back/spinal and nerve pain’ and had had spine operations.

After being caught out Mrs Jones alleged she was forced into signing all the benefit applications by her husband, who she claimed bullied her and wanted money to fulfil his dream of a luxury lifestyle. She said she had a genuine degenerative spinal condition but her ‘violent and controlling’ husband had forced her into working.

She said: ‘He told me that I was not fit for anything. He said I would never reach his level.

‘He liked money. He liked big things, expensive cars like Range Rovers, with personalised number plates, hi-fis, a nice house, everything we could not simply afford.’

Mrs Jones claimed her husband kept all their mail and passports locked away and refused to allow her access to their bank accounts.

In 2010 she walked out on their marriage after having an affair with her scuba-diving instructor.

In total Mrs Jones fraudulently claimed around £117 000 in benefits. Her husband claimed £5 351 in Carer’s Allowance and £15 975 in Working Tax Credits.

Mrs Jones was convicted of six counts of furnishing false information, four of obtaining money by deception, and two of dishonestly making false representation.

Mr Jones was convicted of four charges of obtaining money transfer by deception, one of furnishing false information and two of dishonestly making false representation.

The couple were given bail and are due to be sentenced next month. - Daily Mail


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