'Hoarder' kept his dead mother's body in the freezer to claim her benefits

A post-mortem showed the body had been hidden for around half a year

A 54-year-old “hoarder” has been given a suspended jail sentence after he concealed his dead mother’s body in a freezer at their home so he could claim her benefits.

The body of his 90-year-old mother, Louise Brough, was found last August in the freezer of their flat in Tyseley Road, Portsmouth.

A post-mortem examination showed that she died of natural causes but had been dead for around half a year.

Philipe Brough, of Charles Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to preventing a lawful and decent burial and to fraud.

He did not alert the Department for Work and Pensions that his mother had died in order to continue claiming her pension and the benefits he received for being her carer, the court heard.

Prosecutor Martyn Booth told Portsmouth Crown Court that Mrs Brough had moved to the flat in the 1970s when her son was aged 11 after her husband, and the defendant's father, had died.

He said that in recent years, Mrs Brough had been bed-bound and only occasionally seen out of the flat, while Mr Borough had given up his job in 2008 to be her full-time carer.

He added that concerns about her whereabouts were raised when Portsmouth City Council attempted to contact her in August to discuss extensive refurbishment that needed to be carried out at their council flat.

Mr Brough appeared evasive when asked about his mother and refused council staff access to the property, the court heard.

The police were alerted and Brough told officers his mother was living with an aunt in London.

When it became clear Mr Brough was lying, he was arrested on suspicion of murder and Mrs Brough was found in the freezer, Mr Booth said.

He added that following the police investigation, there was no suggestion that Brough caused or was involved in the death of his mother.

Describing the state of the flat when it was searched by police, Mr Booth said: “It was described as being in something of a state of disarray, it contained a large amount of property cluttering up most of the space in it.

”It was described as typical of the type of person one would associated with as a hoarder.“

He continued: ”As they cleared items out of it, they found in the corner of a room, hidden behind a mattress, an upright freezer which had been covered by a large cardboard box.

“Industrial tape was placed across the door seals, all designed to prevent the door opening accidentally.

Mr Booth said the total amount of benefits falsely claimed was £5,390 although Brough had since repaid £2,000 of this.

Defence lawyer Matthew Jewell said his client had a history of depression and had panicked when his mother had died.

He argued that Brough's was afriad he would lose his home following his mother's death and he had not set out to commit fraud.

Mr Jewell said: "This is not a wicked or evil offence, it's an offence borne of distress, depression of an emotional breakdown."

Mr Borough was sentenced to an eight-month term of imprisonment suspended for 12 months with a 12-month supervision order.

Judge Roger Hetherington said he accepted Brough had acted out of an ”emotional inability to cope“.

He said: "What is inexcusable is to embark on the elaborate course that you did involving a considerable deception over a period of time in dealing with your mother's death in the way that you did."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own