Long Melford: 59-year-old hospitalised after asthma attack while being sentenced for benefit fraud
PUBLISHED: 08:36 17 May 2014
A benefit cheat who dishonestly claimed more than £20,000 was taken to hospital after suffering an asthma attack as she was being sentenced by a judge.
Audrey Brachtvogel, 59, was sitting in the dock at Ipswich Crown Court and had just been told by Judge Rupert Overbury that he was not going to send her to prison when she started struggling to breathe.
The case was adjourned while she took an inhaler and she was then taken from the court to a waiting ambulance in a wheelchair by paramedics.
Brachtvogel, of Bildeston Road, Offton, admitted dishonestly failing to notify a change in her circumstances, dishonestly making a false statement and dishonestly producing a false tenancy agreement.
She was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Judge Overbury said Brachtvogel was in poor health and it would place a huge burden on the prison service if he sent her straight to prison.
Her husband Brian, 54, of Cordell Place, Long Melford, denied aiding and abetting his wife to commit the three offences she admitted and not guilty verdicts were entered on the court record after the prosecution offered no evidence against him.
Jodie Hitchcock, prosecuting, told the court Audrey Brachtvogel had dishonestly obtained £10,000 housing benefit and council tax benefit from Tendring District Council (TDC) and £11,300 from Babergh District Council (BDC).
She said the defendant had claimed housing and council tax benefit from TDC while she was living in St Osyth. She claimed she was unemployed and living on her own and that her only income was incapacity benefit. She made another claim to BDC after moving to Cordell Place in Long Melford and repeated the claims she had made to Tendring.
In support of her claim to BDC she supplied a tenancy agreement which had been doctored to show her as the only tenant of the premises whereas the original document had her husband’s name on it as well, said Miss Hitchcock.
An investigation revealed that she had been living with her husband, who was in work, at both addresses.
Miss Hitchcock said although Brachtvogel’s claim to TDC was genuine at the outset the BDC claim was fraudulent from the start.
Matthew McNiff, for Brachtvogel, said his client had not spent the money she obtained on high living and had used it to pay for her heating to create an ideal atmosphere to assist her medical problems.