A failed Watford businessman who faked his death in India in a bid to scoop a £1.1m life insurance payout has been jailed.

Wife Anju Kumar, 46, reported Sanjay Kumar, 45, had died of "brain fever" in a bid to clear their family's mounting debts.

But apart from a bout of diarrhoea, her husband was in good health at the time in India, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Sanjay - born in India but a British citizen with dual nationality - flew to Delhi in November, 2011.

He later emailed his wife telling her he had fallen seriously ill and had been taken to hospital.

Mother-of-three teenage children, Anju then received an email, informing her that Sanjay had been killed by brain fever and cremated.

He was alive in India however, obtaining a fake death certificate and a receipt confirming he had been cremated.

Sanjay then tried to claim a £250,000 policy from Scottish Provident and a term assurance policy with Aviva worth £450,000.

There were also claims for a second term assurance policy with Aviva valued at £450,000 and finally a Legal and General assurance pension death claim policy to the value of £5789.38.

Watford Observer:

Anju Kumar.

The couple tried to pocket £1,155,789.38 but were only paid £10,615.49 by the time of their arrest.

Aviva and Scottish Provident found the circumstances of Sanjay's "death" suspicious and launched an investigation.

Detectives established that Anju had wired £1,522 to her husband via Western Union - two days after his reported death.

The City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) later discovered Sanjay was in serious debt.

The failed businessman had been director of nine companies since the 1990s, and complained of "threats" from his creditors.

The couple had also re-mortgaged their home in Watford, leaving 'little or no equity' in it.

After realising his fraud had largely failed, Anju returned to the UK under a false name to reunite with his wife, but he was quickly arrested.

The couple, who are now separated, each blamed the other for the fraud In court they did not look at each other as Sanjay was jailed for 30 months and his wife was handed a suspended prison sentence.

Sentencing, Judge David Higgins branded the couple "thieves" and said the fraud was "sustained, relatively sophisticated and very serious".

He said: "If you stoop to crime in this way, then you must accept the consequences, and the courts have long made clear they are likely to be severe.

"Your behaviour was quite routinely deplorable and deeply anti-social.

"You Sanjay Kumar have to answer for approximately £1,000,000, whereas you, Anju Kumar, only about £10,000."

Sanjay Kumar, of Long Elms Close, Abbots Langley, was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

He pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud by false representation, with a potential value of £1,155,789.38.

Anju Kumar, of Hempstead Road, Watford, received a five month jail term, suspended for two years and a five month tagged curfew.

She pleaded guilty to two counts of the same offence, in respect of a falsely claimed sum of £10,615.49 only, which the authorities will now try to claw back.

Confiscation proceedings in respect of the £10,615.49 will begin on September 29.

Four more allegations of fraud against Anju were left to lie on file.