A couple who enjoyed holidays abroad with some of the money from a relative who faked a neurological condition to scam a local authority out of more than £624,000 have been jailed.
Earlier this year Frances Noble, 66, was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court to four years and nine months in jail for defrauding Hertfordshire County Council of £624,047.50 by pretending she was bedbound and unable to feed herself, needing round-the-clock care, between January 15 2007 and November 26 2018.
On Tuesday Noble’s daughter Laura Borrell, 44, was jailed for a total of three years and nine months and her son-in-law, Philip Borrell, 46, was sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment for money laundering offences which arose from that fraud.
Judge Richard Foster, sentencing at St Albans Crown Court, told the pair that they were at times “held out at times as carers when clearly you were not”.
He noted that Laura Borrell, who has a serious neurological condition, had made a claim for state benefits to assist with her own personal care needs and so on that basis was “a person in need of care and not capable of providing care”.
The judge, who described their crimes as of a “sophisticated nature” and carried out over a sustained period of time, told the couple: “There was evidence of an extravagant lifestyle.
“You, Philip Borrell, had a good salary but this was subsidised by your use of this criminal money.”
He worked as a software project manager but was frequently travelling with his wife, the court heard.
The judge told Philip Borrell that he had chosen to “ignore your suspicions as to the source of the monies, that source being a fraud on Hertfordshire County Council, on a massive scale”.
The cost of social care as “an enormous burden” on the taxpayer in a nation with an ageing population, according to the judge.
In “any decent and compassionate society” taxpayers are ready to pay in order to fund the care of those who are unable to look after themselves, he said.
The judge added: “Those taxpayers are victims of this fraud, some of the proceeds which you used for your own benefit.”
The court has previously heard that from 2005 Noble received £702,905 from the council, but the offence she admitted only came into existence in January 2007, and so she was only indicted on monies received over this later period.
The prosecution said there had been forged emails purporting to have been written by the carers she had hired to look after her at her home in Damask Green Road in Weston, near Hitchin.
Care payments from the council were made directly into a bank account under Noble’s control.
At an earlier hearing, Noble, of Rohrwallallee, Berlin, Germany, and Philip and Laura Borrell, of no fixed address, admitted one count of fraud.
Noble admitted a further count of transferring criminal property in the sum of £130,649.46, and the Borrells admitted one joint count of acquiring criminal property amounting to £184,203.65.
The pair also admitted one further count each of acquiring criminal property, in the sum of £39,700 for Laura Borrell and £6,218.92 for Philip Borrell.
Noble is awaiting extradition from Germany to serve her sentence.
The sentences handed out to the Borrells on Tuesday are concurrent on all counts.
The fraud was rumbled when neighbours became suspicious that Noble was mobile, seeing her standing up in the garden and walking her dog at night, the court previously heard.
A neighbour had seen Noble in her garden in 2015 and another secretly recorded videos of her walking around without the aid of a carer.
The council opened an investigation into Noble in spring 2018.
After the sentencing a Hertfordshire County Council spokesman said the trio had committed “a sophisticated and devious fraud that shamelessly sought to deceive health and social services professionals over a sustained period of time.”
Regarding the Borrells, he added: “Their offences were planned, calculated and carried out with the intention of abusing a care system designed first and foremost to meet the requirements of those in need of support.
“We will now be using the Proceeds of Crime Act and other civil recovery methods, including the forced sale of the Borrells’ home, to attempt to recover every penny de-frauded so that it can go towards supporting those that genuinely need our help.”