THE MOTHER of an international model conned more than £9,000 in cab fare claims out of the Student Loans Company while her daughter was studying for a law degree at the University of Westminster.
Leanne Shillingford (23) was entitled to receive free taxi rides from her home in Kent to London but Croydon Crown Court heard that her mother Tina (49) had submitted a number of false claims in her daughter’s name.
The expense claims totalled £9,744 between November 2012 and July 2014 and both mother and daughter were accused of fraud after Tina’s work colleagues saw a file of taxi receipts on her computer at law firm Magrath & Co where she worked as a receptionist.
Shillingford pleaded guilty to the fraudulent claims for taxi fares and prosecutors accepted that her daughter had been unwittingly caught up in the scam.
Shillingford’s lawyer Barry Kogan told the court: “When Leanne found out, rather rightly she was very upset and it has put a huge strain on their relationship which is only now just beginning to heal.”
Judge Alice Robinson sentenced Shillingford to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 180 hours of community service.
She said: “There is no doubt that this is a very serious case. But, I accept that you had a series of family crisies and serious illnesses.”
The court was told that Shillingford had lost her job at Magrath & Co but had been taken on as a receptionist at a city hedge. Her conviction means she is likely to lose this job.
Mr Kogan had pleaded for a suspended sentence so she could attend the wedding of Leanne to footballer Alexis Perez who plays in Mexico’s top football division. The court was told that Shillingford had paid back all the fraudulent taxi fare claims.