Suffolk couple stole £200,000 meant for disabled son's care to fund 'extravagant lifestyle'

The couple received a suspended sentence at Ipswich Crown Court.

A couple who used more than £200,000 of social care payments meant for their disabled son to fund their own "extravagant lifestyle" have been spared jail.

Rebecca and Simon Toloui claimed the money from Suffolk County Council between 2015 and 2019, committing what is thought to be "one of the largest direct payment frauds".

The couple, from Chelmondiston, near Ipswich, created false documents and invoices from a business allegedly providing carers for their son.

But the business was their own and care was not provided. The money was either left in the Tolouis' business account or transferred to their personal accounts.

Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for adult care, said: "The fact these people deliberately arranged less care hours for a disabled person and pocketed the remaining balance to fund their own extravagant lifestyle, is one thing. The fact that person was their own son is shocking and appalling to me.

"This fraud was entirely deliberate and involved careful planning by lying to social care practitioners, finance staff and to the carers they employed to look after their son."

Rebecca and Simon Toloui, of Main Road, Chelmondiston, denied fraud by abuse of position but were found guilty after a five-week trial at Ipswich Crown Court.

They were given a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to complete 20 days of rehabilitation. Simon Toloui was also sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid community service.

The prosecution was brought by the county council.

The Tolouis were responsible for managing their son’s direct payment from the council. It was meant to be used for carers and activities agreed in his care and support plan.

The money was paid by the council into a holding account run by Suffolk Independent Living who would be instructed by the Tolouis on payments to be made.

The investigation found invoices totalling £188,850.40 were sent by the Tolouis to Suffolk Independent Living from their own business.

They had also sent requests totalling £18,800 to reimburse respite carers, when no such carers existed.

The council said it had now taken over care arrangements for the boy to ensure he "was receiving the assessed level of care he needed".

Cllr Hopfensperger said: "I hope this outcome serves as a clear warning to others who may be thinking of trying to defraud social care.

"Suffolk County Council will always vigorously pursue and prosecute people who steal from the taxpayer.”

The county council will now pursue a Proceeds of Crime Hearing, with the aim of recouping stolen funds.

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