September 5th 2014
A female prison officer from Rochdale faces losing her home after her lesbian lover used their relationship to commit a £62,000 identity and mortgage fraud.
58 year-old Patricia Bailey gave up her job to begin an affair with inmate Michelle Whitham (shown here), who had been jailed in 2001 for 21 months for defrauding the hospital where she worked as a mental health officer of £50,000. She moved Whitham into her stone terraced house, but was repaid by having her identity stolen, her house being secretly re-mortgaged and her passport and drivers licence being used to apply for online accounts. Whitham secured two loans totalling £60,000 secured on the property, a loan for £1,750 secured on Miss Bailey's car and a credit card in her name.
She arranged to collect their post from the Royal Mail delivery depot to avoid Miss Bailey becoming aware of the fraud. She also re-registered the Peugeot by changing the details on the V5C, cancelled the car insurance and re-insured it in her own name.
Miss Bailey became aware of the scam only when she was stopped by police for driving uninsured in the car she thought was hers, but which officers informed her was not. Stalling to report the crimes, she went to the police only when Whitham started an affair with another woman.
Whitham, also from Rochdale, admitted fraud by false representation and was jailed for two years at Burnley Crown Court.
Robert Elias, defending, said: "Miss Bailey is financially disadvantaged at the end of her relationship with my client. But my understanding is that Miss Bailey went to the police as a woman scorned, when my client moved on to another relationship.’’
He told the court that Miss Bailey had been happy to give up work and live off Whitham’s earnings as a pub chef, and that his client had been paying the mortgage adding that Miss Bailey had known of Whitham’s track record and had '"put her head in the sand".
The court heard that around £10,000 to £15,000 of the defrauded money has been paid back.