Colonel not often seen, hearing told
NEIGHBOURS of an Army colonel accused of fraudulently claiming nearly £100,000 in allowances to send his children to a leading public school in the West Country have told a court martial they did not often see him at his military accommodation.
Colonel Roddy Lee had been allocated a house at RAF Odiham in Hampshire, which was a convenient location for his job in Andover and his regular travel to Whitehall.
Lee was entitled to claim the Army’s continuity of education allowance, which enables service personnel to send children to boarding school to prevent disruption to schooling caused by postings around the UK and abroad.
During the academic year 2015/16, he claimed £98,306.80 in school fees and sent his two older children to Marlborough College and the younger children to prep schools in Wiltshire and Dorset.
To receive the allowance, Lee’s wife had to live with him in his service accommodation but prosecutors allege she lived in a house they owned near Devizes, Wiltshire.
The court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, heard neighbours of Lee at RAF Odiham say they did not often see him or his family after they moved there in November 2015.
Samantha Higgins, who lived next door, said: “The curtains were always closed and if a house is empty on a military base the curtains are open.
“It was winter and the curtains were shut and the windows were shut. There was no steam coming out from the boiler. There was never any signs of life.”
The mother-of-two, who worked from home, said she would see Lee and his wife’s cars parked outside the property in the mornings.
She said in early 2016 she wanted to “pinch” some bin space after Christmas and used Lee’s dustbin.
“I went and put my bin out and Mr Lee’s bin was out and his lid was not open, and I opened it up and there was a half-full bin bag in there for a fortnight,” she said.
Mrs Higgins said that in winter 2015 she took in a parcel for Lee and it remained at her house for eight weeks with no one collecting it before she left it on his doorstep. On another occasion, she saw a man in a camouflage uniform mowing Lee’s lawn and it was not him.
Mrs Higgins agreed she was “unable to say for sure” how many times she saw Lee and his family at the property.
Puneet Rai, defending, said: “It is fair to say you could have missed sightings of them?”
She replied: “I could have done.” Angharad Davis, who lived in the adjacent semi-detached house to Lee, said she would not have recognised him, telling the court: “I didn’t really see him when he was living next door to us. I was just aware of a tall man.
“I saw him more after the police started coming around. Sometimes I would see him late at night coming to the house and the car would be gone before people left for school.
“I never heard any children playing in the garden or saw anyone coming back from school.”
The mother-of-three said she did not hear any noise from Lee’ss home
Colonel Roddy Lee