Man hid dead brother to claim his pension

Last updated 11:17 14/09/2012

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A Scottish man has been ordered to undergo 240 hours of community service after admitting to hiding his dead brother's body for more than three years so he could collect his welfare benefits.

Alistair Brown, 61, admitted last month to not notifying authorities about his 69-year-old brother John's death in August 2007, Alloa Sheriff Court heard.

He then continued to withdraw his brother's benefits - a total of £38,237 - from his bank account from August 2007 to January 2011.

John Brown's skeletal remains were found under a sofa by firefighters in December 2010 when they were working on a water pipe that burst in the brothers' flat in Denny, Stirlingshire in central Scotland during a cold snap, The Scotsman reported.

But according to a Daily Mail report, prosecutor Ann MacNeill told the court fire crews had found the remains under a bed.

"There was a human foot coming out from the bottom of the bed and police were immediately called," the Mail reported.While originally treated as suspicious, authorities later accepted the death came from natural causes.

Prosecutors accepted that Alistair Brown, who acted as his brother's carer, had lied to the council so that he could remain in the residence, The Scotsman reported.

Brown's lawyer Gordon Addison told the court his client experienced an "acute and unusual grief reaction".

"We all have to cope with death in our own way but most of us have family and friends to help. If you have no one to turn to the consequences can be out of the ordinary," he said, according to the Mail.

Sheriff Kenneth McGowan, who sentenced Brown, said it was not in the public interest to put him behind bars and that "the circumstances are bizarre".

"They do not fall into a simple category for sentencing."

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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