Air hostess 'saw fraud come true'

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AN AIR HOSTESS who conned an insurance company after claiming her former husband had died in a road accident saw her story come true when he died in a car bought with the proceeds of the fraud, a court was told yesterday.

Lebanese-born Mohammed Wafiq Zarif died eight months after he faked his first 'death', in a car bought with the pounds 15,000 his former wife, Kathleen Denham, had extracted from Cornhill Insurance, Isleworth Crown Court in west London was told.

Nicholas Coleman, for the prosecution, said: 'By an extraordinary twist of fate, her former husband did in fact die . . . in exactly the same way he had previously pretended to.'

Ms Denham, 38, of Feltham, west London, a freelance air stewardess, denies two charges of conspiracy to defraud six insurance companies and British Airways, and theft of pounds 15,000 from Cornhill. She also denies six charges of attempting to obtain cash from insurance companies and one of attempting to obtain cash from a British Airways pension.

Because Zarif, a British Airways steward, had discussed insurance fraud with her, she had doubts when his brother-in-law told her he had 'died' in Beirut in December 1990. 'I didn't know whether to believe it or not because he had mentioned he might do something like this. I knew he had lots of insurance and he had made a will,' she told police.

Ms Denham, the court was told, made claims totalling pounds 1m with six insurance companies and pursued them even after Zarif telephoned her in January 1991. 'I either continued or something would happen to me,' she told police. 'He told me he had a friend who would murder people for pounds 5,000. He would have killed me.'

Cornhill paid out pounds 15,000. 'I sent him pounds 10,000,' Ms Denham told police. 'He bought this car and he got killed. His brother telephoned to say he had died. I thought it was just another lie. It was just ridiculous . . . '

The case continues.

(Photograph omitted)