Fraudster spent care money to give her horse a 'lavish lifestyle'
- Credit: ARCHANT
A fraudster spent money she had been allocated for her care to provide her horse with a "lavish lifestyle", a court has heard.
Between 2015 and 2020, Lucy Melton, 41, of Kingsbury Walk, Great Cornard, claimed £68,000 in payments from Suffolk County Council which should have been spent on carers for her Multiple Sclerosis (MS) but was not used for that purpose.
On Friday, magistrates deemed their sentencing powers were insufficient.
She will face sentencing at crown court on charges of fraud and making false invoices, having been convicted of the offences at Suffolk Magistrates Court in early March.
At the March hearing, the court heard that when the county council asked to see what care she had received, Melton, who previously lived in Essex, had claimed to be receiving care from a woman through a Chelmsford-based company called First Class.
In November 2019, she had supplied the council with 11 fake invoices purporting to be from First Class for providing care.
However, when the council attempted to contact the firm, the phone number given on the invoice was unrecognised, while the woman she claimed was providing care provided MOT evidence to the court showing that she had never visited Great Cornard to provide care for the defendant.
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She also demonstrated that she had been away on holiday during the period the fraud took place.
At Friday’s hearing, Laura Austin, prosecuting, said Melton had "her back against the wall".
She added: “She was being repeatedly asked for proof by Suffolk County Council of what care she had received and she created false invoices to keep Suffolk County Council at bay.”
She also rejected Melton’s claim she was only spending £10 a week on the horse's upkeep.
“Your honours, I think you will find it difficult to find a dog that costs £10 a week,” she said.
However, Matthew Edwards, mitigating, said: “I am going to disagree entirely with the 'lavish lifestyle'. A 30-year-old horse that gets put out to grass would not cost a fortune. Previously her horse-related activities were funded by care at Essex County Council.”
He added the defendant had been of previous good character.