Rothwell woman who stole £21,000 of her dead mother’s pension payments to fund gambling habit avoids jail

Crown Court GV

Crown Court GV

A 70-year-old woman has been given a suspended prison sentence after she admitted falsely claimed £21,000 of her mother’s pension payments to fund an addiction to buying lottery scratchcards.

Julie Panter, of High Street, Rothwell, appeared at Northampton Crown Court after she admitted fraudulently claiming her mother’s pension for more than three years after she died.

The court heard Panter was the carer for her mother, who suffered from dementia and received a £500 a month widow’s pension.

When Panter’s mother died on February 24, 2010, she did not inform the pension company of her death so the payments continued to be made until March 2013.

The fraud was uncovered after Northamptonshire County Council informed the company of Panter’s mother’s death.

Jenna Allen, prosecuting, said Panter then phoned the pension company to ask why the payments had been stopped.

Mrs Allen said she did not state at any point in the telephone call that her mother had died.

The court heard that Panter had an addiction to buying lottery scratchcards and was spending £60 a day on them.

Panter was found to have mortgage arrears of £6,000 and an outstanding bank loan of £5,800.

Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking said: “It is deeply disappointing to see a lady of your age who has brought up a family and been a long-term carer to find themselves in the dock.

“The reason for that is an out of control gambling addiction. Spending £60 a day on scratchcards is at a similar level of spending to someone with a serious drug habit.”

Judge Lucking sentenced Panter to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years. Due to her age and health problems, Judge Lucking said she would not be imposing an unpaid work order.

The court heard Panter had not paid any of the £21,878 she falsely claimed from the pension company. A Proceeds of Crime Hearing will take place at a later date.