A FORCES widow who illegally claimed over £140,000 pension money from the MoD has been jailed for nine months.
Carol Garside was awarded both a War Widow’s Pension and a Forces Family Pension following the death of her Royal Navy diver husband Michael in a road accident back in 1987.
Christopher Geeson, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Garside was entitled to the money while living on her own but the pension payments should have ended in 1993 when she began living with her new partner.
She failed to tell the MoD of her change in circumstances but the fraud came to light after the MoD received an anonymous tip off.
Mr Geeson said: “Tragically her husband was killed in a road traffic accident. At the time he was a serving member of the Royal Navy.
“A few days later this defendant started claiming a War Widows’ Pension and a Forces’ Family Pension. She was entitled to it at the time but it was made clear from the forms that if she started to cohabit or remarried she would have to tell the Ministry of Defence and that would affect her rights to a pension.
“The MoD started an investigation in February 2011 having had an anonymous tip off.”
Garside initially claimed she had only been cohabiting for a month but investigations showed she had actually been living with her new partner for 18 years.
Mr Geeson said: “Even when the fraud was discovered she made efforts to hide the fact that she had been fraudulent for all these years.”
Garside, 48, of Yarborough Close, Holton le Clay, admitted two charges of deception and two charges of fraud covering the period between July 1993 and January 2007.
Judge Sean Morris told her “This is money that wasn’t yours. It was a considerable sum. Benefit frauds are easy to commit and cost the country a fortune. This was a deliberate fraud carried out over a considerable time. A prison sentence is inevitable.”
Terry Boston, defending, said that the initial claim forms were filled in for Garside because she was so distressed and she had no recollection of exactly what she was told at the time.
“She is accepting that she knew at the time that she was dishonest. As soon as she realised what she was doing and how guilty she was she felt sick to the stomach with guilt. Other than this she has led an honest life. She didn’t try to hide the fact that she was living with this man.
“The greatest punishment she has had is the shame and guilt she is feeling.”