A woman pretended her nephew didn’t exist to try and get her hands on a £56,000 payout following her brother’s death.
Vicki Maddick, 61, declined to mention that her late sibling had a child when she filled out a form claiming the cash from South Tyneside Council in early 2019.
Newcastle Crown Court heard staff confronted Maddick after spotting a local newspaper obituary which mentioned that they had another brother.
She admitted there were three of them, but again claimed there were no children – before eventually confessing to the ‘bad lie’.
Maddick, from Saltwell, Gateshead, was found guilty of fraud and handed a 14-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
Judge Robert Adams told her: ‘You failed to disclose to South Tyneside Council accurate information about the identity of your brother’s son – you didn’t reveal he existed.
‘Death in service payment fell due to be paid by South Tyneside Council as a result of his earlier employment and who received the benefit was at the discretion of the council.
‘It was not part of his estate.’
The court heard it was an Evening Chronicle obituary that revealed the other brother, yet Maddick continued the ‘deliberate lie’ there was no child.
She eventually confessed to the son’s existence during a telephone call.
When the council contacted her again a few days later demanding an explanation, Maddick said it had been a ‘bad lie’ then hung up.
The court heard that, in a Letter of Wishes, her brother said he wanted Maddick to receive his life insurance pay out but wanted his son to get half of any other policies or pensions.
Judge Adams added: ‘Whatever your views were about who should get what, you were well aware at that stage of the importance his son meant to your dying brother.’
The court heard the son eventually received everything that was rightfully owed to him.
Fiona Lamb, defending, said Maddick suffered from depression and anxiety and had been confused and upset at the time, having been extremely close to her sibling.
She added: ‘She’s a full-time carer for her daughter. She’s never been in trouble before and will never be in trouble again.’
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