Ben­e­fits in­spec­tor’s ‘un­ease’ at never see­ing claimant

The Herald - - NEWS - WILMA RI­LEY

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.

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