It was recently announced a case of woman who spent her inheritance of £84,000 on pampering her cats. It also became apparent that she was cleared of any charges regarding benefit fraud. Marlene Howes admitted that she kept her entire inheritance in secret and she did spend the money on her cats. Between 2005 and 2011, she has claimed an overall amount of £22,000 in pension credits as well as council tax benefits. The charges against the 67 year old woman were taken off after Judge Bopa-Rai listened to the story of Mrs. Howes and found nothing dishonest in her actions.
Marlene Howes said that it was her mother’s idea to use the money for the cats. Apparently, Barbara Sutton advised her daughter to put the money towards taking care of her 14 Persian cat in order to provide the kittens with “the best of everything”. In Gloucester Magistrates’ Court, Judge Joti Bopa-Rai cleared Mrs Howes of the charges and claimed her not guilty after he carefully assessed her bank statements. He saw that all the money from the heritage were indeed spent on the cats. Mrs. Howes said that all her mother wanted was for the money from selling her property to be used for looking after and taking care of her animals. Mrs. Howes agreed to take care of the animals under the conditions stated. Barbara Sutton expressed her will verbally and she has not included this in her will in writing. It was stated to the court that Mrs. Howes took her mother’s kittens in her home where she ended up with 25 Persian cats. At this point, Marlene set up a bank account, put the funds in and used them only for buying food, litter and vet bills necessary for the cats. According to the bank statements, she spent around £180 for taking care of the animals. The amount spent on vet bills overall was as much as £30,000. Another thing she used the money for is to buy the 24 Persian kittens a conservatory. Mrs. Howes claimed that this had to provide the animals with more living space and make the life of all 25 as good as her mother insisted.
Jon Holmes, Marlene Howes’ solicitor, defended her by saying that her client only carried about her mother’s wishes. Mrs. Howes did not use the money for her own or any other purposes. Marlene herself said to the court that she never regarded the money as her own. It is therefore why Judge Bopa-Rai cleared Mrs. Howes of benefit fraud. Judge Bopa-Rai found the defended credible. He also stated that Mrs. Howes did not do anything wrong or dishonest in her mind. The judge accepts the fact she only kept the money in secret because after all she was indeed fulfilling her mother’s last wishes and non of the money from the inheritance was spent towards anything else but taking care of the kittens.
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