AN amateur actress who faked dementia and hid her father's death for 12 years so she could claim £750,000 in benefits has been jailed for five years and eight months.

Ethel McGill, 68, of Windmill Hill in Runcorn, claimed she had dementia and mobility problems for more than two decades to falsely claim disability allowance and other benefits.

When the fraudster's father Robert Dennison died in April 2004, she failed to notify any agency paying benefits to him about his death so she could receive his pensions and allowances.

In 2005, McGill made a request to Liverpool Housing Trust for a bigger home in Runcorn, claiming that her whole family needed to live together to provide around-the-clock care for her already deceased father.

McGill even asked a friend to pretend to be her late dad, telling social workers who were checking up on him not to speak with her dad as he could become 'aggressive.'

In 2016, McGill was investigated after an allegation that she had failed to notify the death of her father.

The Department for Work and Pensions then discovered that McGill was registered at two doctors in the same area and would visit one repeatedly, complaining of undiagnosed conditions to support her fraudulent claims.

At the other surgery she had an almost clean bill of health.

When healthcare professionals came to assess McGill’s dementia she stayed silent, while her son's ex-partner Hannah Bazley fabricated symptoms and answered on her behalf.

When she was placed under surveillance, her son Chris McGill was not seen with his ‘immobile’ mother for an entire week. McGill was also spotted walking without assistance and no mobility aids were found in the home.

She pleaded guilty to; three counts of recipient dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances; dishonestly allowing recipient to fail to report a change in circumstances; three counts of dishonestly making a false representation; three counts of acquiring, using or possessing criminal property; false accounting; two counts of conspiring to commit fraud by false representation and fraud by false representation on June 27 at Chester Crown Court.

This is the 'largest' case of benefits fraud committed by a single person.

Specialist Prosecutor in the Specialist Fraud Division at the CPS, Stephane Pendered said: “This is the largest case of benefit fraud by a single person that I have prosecuted.

"Not content with receiving her father’s pensions, housing and tax benefits under false pretences, Ethel McGill made good use of her amateur dramatic skills by feigning dementia to succeed in her own fraudulent benefit claims.

“Over the course of 25 years, McGill shamelessly received £750,000 of public money she knew full well she was not entitled to.

“The CPS will now endeavour to ensure taxpayers get some of their money back by pursuing McGill under the Proceeds of Crime Act.”

McGill was sentenced to five years and eight months imprisonment on Monday, July 29 at Liverpool Crown Court.

Judge Everett informed her that she will serve half her sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Her son McGill, 28, and Bazley, 25, both pleaded guilty to supporting McGill in her deception by claiming a carer’s allowance for conditions they knew she did not have.

Ms Pendered continued: “The lengths Ethel McGill and her family went through to cheat a system designed for people in need is truly staggering.

“However, we were able to dismantle their deception one lie at a time.

"We hope this prosecution will help the public to have confidence that those who cheat the public purse will face the full force of the law.”