Navy widow jailed over pension fraud
31 August 2012
The widow of a Royal Navy diver has been jailed for nine months for fraudulently receiving £144,000 of war widows and forces family pension payments over 18 years.
Carol Garside, 48, of Holton-le-Clay, near Grimsby, remarried last April after 18 years of cohabiting with fireman Andrew Garside.
She initially claimed the pension payments following the death of her Royal Navy diver husband Michael Thomas in a road accident in 1987 but did not inform the Ministry of Defence when she began cohabiting with a new partner in 1993.
She admitted to four offences, including obtaining money by deception, fraud and failure to disclose her new domestic situation.
Chris Geeson, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that a total of £143,943.79 had been fraudulently claimed because she had failed to declare her co-habitation with her new husband Andrew Garside.
Judge Sean Morris said the sentence had to act as a "deterrent".
"This was deliberate fraud and for a considerable period of time you had a better standard of living," he said.
The court heard that Garside had been sent letters by the Ministry of Defence every year asking whether her circumstances had changed, but she had claimed in interview not to have read any of them or the terms and conditions of the payments.
Terry Boston, representing Garside, said she had been confused at the time of Thomas' death and that she thought she would be entitled to the pension until she remarried.
"She accepts that papers were sent to her and she ought to have known," he said. "She accepts she was dishonest.
Garside will face proceeds of crime proceedings later this year in an attempt to recover the money.