SENT DOWN: Deborah and Paul

A BRITISH couple who tried to claim more than €20,000 in a fake holiday sickness scam have been jailed.

In a landmark case, Deborah Briton, 53, and partner Paul Roberts, 43, were handed sentences of nine months and 15 months respectively.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how they tried to claim compensation by stating they and their two children had fallen ill on holidays to Mallorca in 2015 and 2016.

But their social media accounts showed a different story, with posts boasting of holidays full of ‘sun, laughter and fun’.

Mum Briton wept as she was sentenced after admitting four counts of fraud in the private prosecution, brought by holiday company Thomas Cook.

Dad Roberts cried and shook in the court throughout the hearing on Friday.

Family members, including Briton’s daughter Charlene, who had initially been charged with two counts of fraud which were later dropped, shouted out in court as the couple were sent down.

The couple from Wirral tried to claim nearly £20,000 for the fake gastric illnesses and would have also cost the holiday firm a further £28,000 in legal expenses had their claims been successful.

Judge David Aubrey QC said their claims had been a ‘complete and utter sham’.

He said: “They were bogus from start to finish, you were both asserting on your behalfs and on behalf of your two children that on two separate holidays you had suffered illness. They were totally and utterly fake.

“Why? Pure greed. Seeking to get something for nothing.”

He added that there had been an ‘explosion’ in gastric illness claims made by holidaymakers from the UK.

And he had a message for would-be scammers, who are believed to have cost the hotel industry in Spain tens of millions of euros.

He warned: “Those who may be tempted in the future to make a dishonest claim in relation to fake holiday sickness, if they are investigated and brought to justice, whatever the circumstances of an individual, he or she must expect to receive an immediate custodial sentence.”

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