Gran (71) not guilty of £44,600 State pension benefit swindle
A Tyrone granny who was charged with dishonestly claiming benefits while she had almost £470,000 in a joint bank account with two other people has been found not guilty at Enniskillen Crown Court.
It took a nine-man and three-woman jury less than an hour to find 71-year-old Anne Quinn, of Corkhill Road, Eskra, not guilty of the charge on a unanimous verdict after a four-day trial.
It was alleged that Mrs Quinn had been overpaid by £44,627.36 during a period between November 2007 and January 2008.
It was said that Mrs Quinn, from November 26, 2007 and January 29, 2012, with a view to obtaining pension credit, did dishonestly fail to notify the Social Security Agency of a change in her circumstances which she knew would affect her entitlement to benefit, namely that she had capital in excess of the statutory limit.
Opening the case, prosecution counsel Suzanne Gallagher told the jury that a request had been made to the First Trust Bank for information on a fixed-term deposit account that was held jointly by the defendant with her sister and uncle.
The joint account was opened on November 2, 2006, for a sum slightly in excess of £456,000
The court heard the defendant had a sum of £231,772.59 transferred into her sole name on April 3, 2009, from the deposit account into a current account.
The cash had then been transferred into another account on April 7, 2009, the court heard.
The jury was told the accused had been overpaid by £44,627.36 in pension credit by the Social Security Agency, and that it would not have been paid if she had the capital stated in court.
An investigator from the Department for Social Development questioned the defendant as to why she failed to tell the department of a change in her circumstances and that she had undeclared capital in the period mentioned earlier.
She was also questioned about why she claimed pension credit when it was means-tested.
The defendant admitted signing some pension credit forms but did not complete all of them.
She had inherited money from her uncle and had not told the Social Security Agency because she did not realise the pension credit was means-tested. The defendant said she could not touch the inheritance until 2009.
Ms Gallagher said it was the prosecution's case that the defendant was fully aware that the benefit was means-tested, and the defendant should have told the Social Security Agency that she had a sum of money in a joint account, and that she later transferred another sum of money from that account into a current account, the court heard.
Mrs Quinn told investigators her uncle's estate of £468,525.18 was equally divided between her self and her sister Maura McGee, when her uncle, John Devine, passed away in 2008.
The defendant said she did not know that her now deceased uncle had put her name and her sister's name on a joint bank account in November 2006, and she did not know when this happened either.
Mrs Quinn denied that she had any money in the bank when her pension credit form was filled in, in 2006, the court was told.