Wife claimed £100,000 in benefit swindle

Lesley Brogan
Lesley Brogan
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A WIFE who claimed £100,000 in false benefits for her husband to satisfy her “naked greed” has been jailed for nearly two years.

While they lived the high life and ran a successful safe-opening and locksmith business, Lesley Brogan, aged 46, filled in forms claiming Alistair Brogan, also 46, was unfit to work and needed round-the-clock care.

Alistair also enjoyed flying lessons at the Sheffield Aero Club, joined a gym and gained a scuba diving qualification on a family holiday in Cyprus.

He appeared as an extra in TV soaps Emmerdale and Coronation Street, as well as the movie When Saturday Comes, starring Sean Bean.

But after Lesley submitted a form claiming Alistair was “like a cabbage”, he was awarded disability living allowance for life.

She also failed to notify the Department for Work and Pensions when the couple scooped a £125,000 lottery win at William Hill bookmakers, used to fund their “high living”.

The couple splashed out on luxury cars including a BMW, while Lesley treated herself to luxuries such as plastic surgery and a plasma screen TV.

Alistair walked free after the judge ordered charges against him of conspiracy to defraud and witness intimidation should lie on file.

Sheffield Crown Court heard the first claim was made in 1994, after Alistair injured his leg when he fell down a manhole while collecting a football.

She also said her husband was suffering from mental health problems, including “continual anxiety and depression”.

Judge Jacqueline Davies said: “In 1995 he was described as being ‘like a cabbage’, and similar claims were made during the course of the following year, when applications were made for even higher levels of benefit.

“His alleged condition was described as being doubly incontinent and incapable of being left alone because of his tendancy to wander off. There was always an obligation to notify the DWP of any improvements.”

Lesley filled in the claim forms herself then signed them in Alistair’s name, the court heard.

Alistair took his first flying lesson in 1998, while he was receiving lifetime disability allowance and after completing a medical assessment form confirming his fitness to take to the air.

“Two months after he first started taking lessons he undertook his first solo flight,” Judge Davies said. “His condition must have improved dramatically for him to be able to fly a plane.”

In March 2006, Alistair joined the Adwick Leisure Centre, attending regularly and also filling in a medical declaration.

Two CVs found at the Brogans’ home at Cross Hill, Old Skellow - which has now been repossessed - also revealed Alistair appeared as an extra on Emmerdale and Coronation Street in May of the same year.

By 2003, the court heard, the couple were jointly running safe-opening and locksmith firm AG Security, which was advertised in the Yellow Pages and took on work at local churches, schools, supermarkets and York Racecourse.

When the couple were finally arrested in 2006, it was discovered the Brogans’ garage had been converted into a workshop for the business and they had spent thousands specially fitting out a Volkswagen van.

Profit and loss accounts detailing the £185,000 turnover of a company called AG Builders were also found.

In interview Lesley admitted completing the benefit allowance forms and signing them on behalf of Alistair, but denied any knowledge of the two businesses.

Rembert De Mello, defending, said: “Mrs Brogan has had quite a lot on her plate in terms of her family. She suffers from depressed moods, and is being prescribed anti-depressants.”

Sentencing, Judge Davies said: “These were serious offences. They were carried out over a long period and involved a very significant amount of money.

“They were offences borne out of nothing more than naked greed.”

Lesley, who admitted false accounting and failing to notify a change of circumstances, will serve 21 months’ imprisonment.