Husband 'had no clue' wife pretended to be blind and disabled for 15 years to scam £1m in benefits

·3-min read
Christina Pomfrey (left), 65, and Aimee Brown (centre left), 34, arrive at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester to face sentencing for charges of benefit fraud.
Christina Pomfrey (left), 65, and Aimee Brown (centre left), 34, arrive at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester (Picture: PA)

A man claimed he had no idea his wife was pretending to be blind and wheelchair-bound when she scammed £1 million in benefits.

John Pomfrey, 60, said he was clueless to his wife Christina’s lies which have now landed her in prison.

On Monday, the 65-year-old grandmother, from Runcorn, Cheshire, was jailed for three years and eight months after she pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to multiple counts of fraud, false accounting and making or supplying articles for use in frauds.

She lied she was totally blind and wheelchair-bound, but surveillance by investigators showed her driving, going for a walk unaided while reading a newspaper and collecting her grandchildren from school.

Mr Pomfrey, who married Christina in 2005, told the Daily Mail: “People think I must have known what she was up to and where all the money went, but the answer to both is I don’t have a clue.

“She has destroyed my life and I cannot forgive her. She is the craftiest woman I have ever known.”

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Christina Pomfrey, 65, has been jailed (Picture: PA)
Christina Pomfrey, 65, has been jailed (Picture: PA)

Mr Pomfrey added she had lied to him she was a millionaire and owned seven newsagents in Liverpool.

When confronted with the evidence by police, she said she was relieved to be finally caught and claimed she had given the money away to charity and those in need.

However, she also admitted she had spent cash on numerous holidays, cosmetic treatment and clothes.

Sentencing at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, Judge Sophie McKone told her: “You grossly exaggerated your disabilities in pretending you were completely blind and that your multiple sclerosis was of such severity that you required significant and costly care.

“This was money to which you were not entitled. Over 15 years, you stole £1 million from your fellow citizens. Money which would have gone to people who justly deserved it, money that could have gone to schools and hospitals.”

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Christina Pomfrey, 65, arrives at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester to face sentencing for charges of benefit fraud.
Christina Pomfrey, 65, was convicted of benefit fraud (Picture: PA)

The court heard despite Pomfrey’s admission of guilt and remorse to investigators in December 2017, she continued her deceit while on bail.

The defendant had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and also suffers from disassociative disorder, where she appears to adopt different personas to cope with past trauma, as a result of abuse she suffered as a child.

Her daughter, Aimee Brown, 34, from Runcorn, received an 18-month jail term, suspended for two years, after she laundered £80,000 of Pomfrey’s cash into her bank account and kept more than £70,000 for herself.

She was “hoodwinked” by her mother and had no knowledge of the extent of her lies, but had entered a guilty plea to money laundering because she did not act on her suspicions, the court heard.

The court was also told the full amount of £1,010,090 fraudulently claimed in various benefits had been spent by Pomfrey.

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