Benefit fraudster Frances Noble, who cheated £600k out of council, 'dies on the run in Germany'

Benefit fraud stock image
Credit: PA
Frances Noble's fraud was one of the worst ever seen in an English court, said a judge. Credit: PA

One of the country’s oldest fugitives - who went on the run to Berlin before she was sentenced for a £600,000 care package fraud - is believed to have died.

Frances Noble, 66, was jailed in her absence for four years and nine months in June last year in what the judge said was possibly the largest fraud of its type to come before the English courts.

Extradition proceedings to bring Noble back from Germany began in December but at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday a proceeds of crime hearing against her was adjourned for evidence of her death to be produced.

Noble had been sentenced, along with her daughter and son-in-law Laura and Philip Borrell, for their part in the fraud on Hertfordshire County Council.

Laura Borrell, now 45, was jailed for three years and nine months and Philip Borrell, now 47, was jailed for four years and three months. Noble had pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, while the Borrells pleaded guilty to money laundering. They had all been living in Damask Green Road in Weston, Hertfordshire.

When he passed the sentences, Judge Richard Foster said: “This is possibly the largest fraud of its type to come before the English courts.”

Laura Borrell with her husband Philip Borrell on ITV's This Morning programme in 2017. Credit: ITV

Tens of thousands of pounds of the care package money was passed onto the Borrells, who went on luxury North American holidays in Canada, San Francisco, Boston and Orlando.

Between 2005 and 2018, Noble convinced Hertfordshire County Council that her condition was so serious that she required intensive round-the-clock home care at her then-bungalow in Datchworth near Stevenage.

But she was seen by her neighbours walking her dog Bertie early in the morning and was videoed by one as she walked around her back garden. Investigators watched as she took in a Tesco home delivery which she was able to unpack.

Prosecutor Andrew Johnson said when one neighbour saw Noble in her back garden she pulled a hood over her face and said: “I am not Frances. I am her carer.”

Over a 13-year period, between 1 August 2005 and 30 November 2018, Noble had obtained £624,047.15.

On one occasion, supposedly bed-ridden Noble was seen been pushed in a wheelchair by her daughter around the Bluewater Shopping Centre.

Noble, who had claimed she had been on a liquid diet, was filmed eating with her daughter in a restaurant. A care worker also turned up at her home to find her standing up, naked in the bathroom, washing her hair.

When neighbours reported her, Noble claimed to her housing association and the police that she had been the victim of harassment and hate crimes, and persuaded the housing association to raise the height of her fence to prevent her being caught out again.

The investigators found a video she made inside her home in June 2013, in which she was walking around and filmed herself in a mirror.

The Borrells themselves deceived ITV’s This Morning show, telling Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby she was one of the youngest people ever to have dementia.

The three had moved to Germany with her daughter and son-in-law after the investigation began.

Philip Borrell, who is being held at The Mount Prison near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, was also due to appear in court for the proceeds of crime hearing. He refused to leave the prison.

Judge Foster said his solicitors should visit him at the prison and a date would be fixed for a new hearing.

Laura Borrell, who is serving her sentence at Peterborough jail, was due in court on Thursday for a similar hearing.

She is said to have benefited by £278,813.65 from her part in the criminal activity.

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