Benefits inspector’s ‘unease’ at never seeing claimant
A BENEFITS investigator has told a murder trial she flagged up worries about missing Margaret Fleming in 2012.
Sarah Deegan, a member of the Department of Work and Pensions visiting team, was giving evidence at the trial of Edward Cairney, 77, and Avril Jones, 58, who deny murdering Ms Fleming when she was 19 at the home they shared at Seacroft, Main Road, Inverkip, between December 18, 1999 and January 5, 2000.
She told the High Court in Glasgow that she visited Seacroft on June 18, 2012 and spoke to Ms Jones after Ms Fleming failed to turn up for a medical.
Mrs Deegan told the jury she was troubled about the visit and afterwards telephoned the social work department in Greenock.
She was asked by prosecutor Iain Mcsporran QC why she had done this and replied: “I just felt something wasn’t right.”
Mrs Deegan added: “I contacted the social work department in Greenock and made a referral as I was concerned about Margaret Fleming’s and Ms Jones’ living conditions and state of mind.” The DWP employee said she had called at the house to try to discover why Ms Fleming had not gone for a medical.
She said: “Ms Jones said that every time Ms Fleming got word about a medical she would say she would go, but on the day she would throw a strop and would just point blank refuse to go.”
Mr Mcsporran asked: “Where was Margaret that day?” She replied: “I have no idea. I asked to see her because I started to get uncomfortable about some of the answers. It was instinct. She said I couldn’t see Ms Fleming because she was ill and she wouldn’t come out.” The witness also described the living conditions in the house as ‘awful’.”
Mrs Deegan told the court she explained that if Ms Fleming did not attend for a medical she could lose her benefits.
Mr Mcsporran asked: “Do you know if anything was ever done by social work” and she said: “No.”
Mr Cairney and Ms Jones deny murdering Ms Fleming. They also deny claiming £182,000 in benefits by pretending she was alive.
The trial continues.
Margaret Fleming was last seen in 1999.