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Indian origin couple in Britain jailed for fraud

The two pleaded guilty to six charges of attempted deception between November 2003 and March 2004.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2006 12:18 IST

An Indian origin couple in Britain has been jailed for two years for lying that the husband had died during a visit to India and then fraudulently claiming more than 600,000 pounds from insurance companies.

Geta and Sharanjit Gill, based in Kempston, Bedford, were part of an elaborate plan to claim money from British insurance companies after claiming that the husband had died following a heart attack in Kartarpur, Punjab, in November 2003.

The two pleaded guilty to six charges of attempted deception between November 2003 and March 2004 at a hearing before the Luton Crown Court last week. Britain-born Mrs Gill, 40, wept as she was jailed.

Judge Richard Foster said: "Greed played a considerable part in your thinking when you decided to go through with this attempted fraud. I have thought long and hard about the effects on your children, but those effects are the fault of you and your husband.

"Being a mother cannot give you immunity from your criminal conduct."

According to prosecuting lawyer Michael Speak, an insurance investigator was appointed because the 'death' had occurred overseas and because of the large sum involved. According to the original version, the family had gone to India on November 19, 2003.

The husband, then aged 29, reportedly woke at 4.00 am with chest pains. The investigator was then told that the husband was taken to hospital and pronounced dead after a heart attack.

However, Speak said that the investigator discovered that the hospital in Kartarpur, where Gill was supposed to have been treated, was actually no more than a doctor's surgery. He added that the doctor who had signed the death certificate, who at first said it was genuine, retracted his statement and later said it must have been stolen and forged.

Speak said in the court that copies of the certificate, in Punjabi and English, were sent to four insurance companies, including Norwich Union, AXA, Britannic and National Deposit, to claim on five life assurance policies the couple had taken out between August 1999 and October 2002.

The court was told that there were no records of the death at the crematorium, the investigator was not satisfied with what he was being told, and it became increasingly evident that the husband, now 32, was not dead at all.

After police became involved, the husband returned to England. The couple then claimed that the husband had been put under pressure to commit the offence by an uncle and other relatives in India, and he in turn had put pressure on his wife to make the claims.

Cyril Ume, defending lawyer, said that the husband had stayed on in India alone and had been held by relatives. His documents were allegedly seized and told that he would not be allowed to return to Britain.

First Published: Dec 10, 2006 12:18 IST