A mother who shaved her young son’s head and eyebrows and forced him to use a wheelchair to make it appear he was seriously ill so she could claim £85,000 in benefits has been jailed.
The woman kept up the pretence for three years while the boy was aged between six and nine, sending him to school wearing a bandana and making him remain in his wheelchair, even though he was ridiculed by his classmates.
She was given a new car to drive the boy around and was able to take him on holiday to Florida, where she made him use the wheelchair so that they would be moved to the front of queues.
Gloucester crown court was told that the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had a personality disorder. But jailing her for three years and nine months, Judge Jamie Tabor QC said her behaviour amounted to cruelty over a long period of time and had caused damage to her son who, like those around him, believed he was ill.
He told the woman from Gloucestershire: “Your behaviour towards your son is quite beyond the pale. Over a long period of time you persuaded your little son and, through him, others, he was suffering from ALPS [a disorder of the immune system] and later cancer.
This was cruelty over a long period of time. I accept no physical injury was inflicted but you have caused undoubted long-term psychological harm to him. These were frauds from the outset over a long period of time and you gained financially to a great extent…
What a cruel, hard-hearted, egregious person.