A woman has been jailed for almost five years after she and her family faked a neurological condition to scam a council out of more than £600,000

Frances Noble, 66, pretended that she was bedbound and unable to feed herself, needing round-the-clock care, between January 15, 2007 and November 26, 2018.

Over this period, she received £624,047.50 from Hertfordshire County Council.

From 2005 she received £702,905 from the council, but the offence she admitted only came into existence in January 2007, and so she was only indicted on monies received over this later period.

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Prosecutor Andrew Johnson told St Albans Crown Court that Noble forged emails purporting to have been written by the carers she had hired to look after her at her home in Damask Green Road in Weston, near Hitchin.

He said the care payments from the council were made directly into a bank account under Noble’s control.

Watford Observer: County Hall, Hertfordshire County Council offices. Credit: Jack HillCounty Hall, Hertfordshire County Council offices. Credit: Jack Hill

The court was told that the money was meant to be used solely to pay for her care, and was left under her control by the council to give her a sense of autonomy.

At different times she employed her daughter, Laura Borrell, 44, and son-in-law, Philip Borrell, 46, as her carers.

However the court heard that the couple travelled to the US when they were supposed to be looking after her, visiting San Francisco, Boston and Orlando.

At an earlier hearing, Noble, now of Berlin, Germany, and Philip and Laura Borrell, of no fixed address, admitted one count of fraud.

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Noble admitted a further count of transferring criminal property in the sum of £130,649.46, and the Borrells admitted one joint count of acquiring criminal property amounting to £184,203.65.

The pair also admitted one further count each of acquiring criminal property in the sum of £39,700 for Laura Borrell and £6,218.92 for Philip Borrell.

Mr Johnson said the trio treated the money as personal income.

He added that the offending was not just that the money was spent in an “impermissible way” but that it was “also obtained through lies”.

Watford Observer: Noble is currently living in Berlin in Germany. Credit: PixabayNoble is currently living in Berlin in Germany. Credit: Pixabay

The fraud was rumbled when neighbours became suspicious that Noble was mobile, seeing her standing up in the garden and walking her dog at night.

Mr Johnson said that a neighbour had seen Noble in her garden in 2015.

Another neighbour secretly recorded a series of videos of Noble walking around her garden without the aid of a carer.

In spring 2018, the council opened an investigation into Noble.

Her house was put under surveillance over a period of five days, and no evidence of visits by carers was seen.

The trio were then charged with fraud, but Mr Johnson said that “at some point” Noble moved abroad.

While Noble entered a guilty plea from Germany, she did not attend her sentencing, and the court was told that she remains in Berlin.

A hearing to apply for a warrant for her arrest in Germany to bring her back before a judge in the UK will take place at a later date.