Dead body hidden under sofa for 3½ years

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A MAN is facing jail after hiding the body of his dead brother under a sofa in his flat for nearly three-and-a-half years and fraudulently pocketing almost £40,000 in benefits.

The skeletal remains of John Brown, 69, were found by firefighters at the flat in Denny, Stirlingshire, which he shared with his younger brother Alistair, when emergency services came to staunch a burst water pipe in December 2010.

Alloa Sheriff Court heard that Brown, 61, who acted as John’s carer, had hidden the corpse in the flat following the death in August 2007.

Brown then hid the truth from officials and continued to claim his brother’s benefits – a total of nearly £40,000.

Brown, who was due to face trial this Friday, admitted forming the fraudulent scheme so he could withdraw the benefits from his deceased brother’s bank account.

At a pre-trial review last week, defence agent Gordon Addison told the court that Brown would be pleading guilty to the fraud.

The charge said that Brown caused Falkirk Council to believe that John Brown was still alive and entitled to benefit payments that should have ceased on his death, enabling the accused to obtain £38,237.84 by fraud.

Depute fiscal Ann MacNeill confirmed that the Crown would accept the guilty plea.

She also said that the Crown would accept not-guilty pleas to two further charges, which had alleged that Brown lied to the council so he could remain in the residence in Denny, and that he failed to notify the registrar of births, deaths and marriages that his brother had died.

Mr Addision handed a psychiatric report on Brown to visiting sheriff Kenneth McGowan, who declined to hear a full narration of the facts as he would not be dealing with sentencing.

He deferred sentence until 13 September for social background reports, when the case will be heard in detail by the resident Alloa sheriff, David Mackie.

Mr Addison said he would reserve his speech detailing Brown’s mitigating circumstances for Sheriff Mackie.

John Brown’s death was initially treated as suspicious when his remains were discovered at the property on 19 December 2010.

It was later accepted that his death had been due to natural causes.

At the time the body was discovered, neighbours said they had not seen John Brown, who was generally known as Ian, for years.

One man, who had lived in the area for more than 20 years, said at the time: “Ian had been unwell for some time, and was never really out the house.

“He was a divorcee and had a condition which meant he had multiple heart attacks, so nobody had seen him for years.

“His brother, who helped care for him, said about three or so months ago that his brother had been moved out to a care home. We haven’t seen him since.”