A SERIAL fraudster - who claimed to be blind and unable to care for herself - walked away with more than £1million in state benefits.

Sixty-five year-old Christine Pomfrey moved out of one home but told the authorities she was still living there so her daughter, Amy Brown, could stay there instead, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court was told.

And Pomfrey, formerly from Oldham but now of Palacefields, Runcorn, also illegally used the personal details of her sister, daughter-in-law and a childhood friend, to show they were her carers during a 15-year long con.

Pomfrey even used the name of her first husband's dead wife, Nancy Houghton, who had been killed in a car crash in 1979, in another bogus claim.

She insisted she had given away most of the £1,010,000 she had wrongly obtained - but prosecutors say they have evidence of holidays, hotel and restaurant outings and cosmetic surgery work she had had carried out.

Pomfrey, who pleaded guilty to more than 30 fraud and money laundering offences, is now starting a 44-month prison sentence after defrauding Oldham Council, Halton Council and the Department of Work and Pensions, with various claims, from 2003 to 2017.

Jailing her, Judge Sophie McKone said: "Over 15 years you stole more than £1million from your fellow citizens...money which could have gone to schools or hospitals."

Robert Dudley, prosecuting said the majority of Pomfrey's fraudulent activity revolved around claims made under two names, Christina Pomfrey and Christine Brown. John Pomfrey was her then-partner and Terrence Brown was a former husband and the father of her daughter, Amy.

Christina Pomfrey's benefits claims began when she lived in Runcorn, at a house in Tildesley Close. She told the DWP and Halton Council she was single, physically infirm and blind to secure a number of benefits payouts.

But from 2005 she was known to have been living with John Pomfrey in Oldham. Halton Housing Trust, which owned the Tildesley Close address, should have been notified but Christina Pomfrey insisted she still lived there and the association continued to carry out repairs and adaptations there, believing they had a vulnerable tenant, for a number of years.

The court heard Pomfrey did have multiple sclerosis but she said this had left her wheelchair bound. Investigators filmed her not only driving but picking up her grandchildren from play groups.

Mr Dudley said as part of her offending, Pomfrey claimed her sister, Brenda Cavanagh, was her carer, using forged personal documents. This fraud resulted in Mrs Cavanagh having difficulties herself later when it came to obtaining tax credits assistance.

Later she would also falsely name Jennifer Hurst, a daughter-in-law, and a childhood friend, Zoe Crimes, as her carers. Both were unaware of this.

An investigation was undertaken by the DWP and Pomfrey and her daughter, Amy Brown, whose bank account was used to launder more than £80,000, were arrested and interviewed.

Questioned by benefits officials, Pomfrey said: "I've had all the money. That is it, I'm guilty."

But after Pomfrey was arrested, the court heard, she went on to make further bogus benefits claims, before being detained and charged with fresh offences.

Jeremy Rawson, defending Pomfrey, said his client had immediately accepted her guilt and there was considerable remorse on her part.

He told the court the defendant had a personality disorder and had given away a large portion of the money.

The court heard her daughter had been led astray by her "morally bankrupt" mother, who had effectively abandoned her aged 15 when she went off to live with someone else.

Brown, 34, of Whitecliffe Road, Runcorn, who pleaded guilty to money laundering, was given an 18-month prison term, suspended for two years.