Mid Wales

Geoffrey Sturdey: Three sentenced on burial charges

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Media captionGeoffrey Sturdey was 60 when he disappeared in October 2008

Two women who failed to report the death of a man and went on to claim his benefits have been jailed for 20 months.

Geoffrey Sturdey, of Beth Berith, Tregaron, Ceredigion, was 60 when he disappeared in October 2008.

His widow Rebekah Sturdey, 56, and friend Boqer-Ore Adie, 43, admitted preventing his burial and fraudulently claiming £77,318 of his benefits.

Karmel Adie, 25, was given a suspended sentence for preventing his burial.

All three are from Beth Berith, Tregaron.

Swansea Crown Court heard the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) began investigating after staff noticed money in Boqer-Ore Adie's account exceeded her benefits amount.

Between October 2008 and 2012 Boqer-Ore Adie and Sturdey unlawfully claimed £21,718 in disability living allowances, £9,415 in carer's allowance, £10,143 income support and £36,041 in pension credits.

Sturdey, who was referred to in court as Ladan rather than Rebekah, told investigators her husband had left the country to travel Europe.

But the investigators later found he did not have a valid passport.

A specialist team of officers searched land at Beth Berith last year and found Mr Sturdey's body buried near a rockery.

He had died of natural causes.

More than £6,000 in cash and handwritten notes were also found indicating the time and date of his death.

The documents claimed Mr Sturdey had chosen his own burial plot and the women buried him in it immediately after his death.

Shortly after he died Boqer-Ore Adie made inquiries about buying gold worth £15,000, the court was told.

The women were arrested in June 2013 and refused to co-operate with police.

'Enrich yourself'

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Image caption Karmel Adie was given a nine month sentence suspended for 12 months

Christopher James, defending Sturdey, said the widow had expressed remorse and regret for her actions.

Carina Hughes, representing Boqer Ore-Adie, said the women simply intended to carry out Mr Sturdey's wishes.

Judge Paul Thomas said the pair had taken advantage of Mr Sturdey's death to claim benefits they were not entitled to.

"Whatever your intention for burying on your land without notifying the authorities, it gave you the opportunity to enrich yourself at the expense of the rest of us," he said.

"Although there is no suggestion of foul play, there is a clear public interest in deterring people from acting as you have, the three of you.

"His body was only discovered after an expensive police search, with you three having refused to co-operate.

"You could have said quite easily said where his body was to save the public from even more expense."

Adie was given a nine month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 150 hours unpaid work.

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