Tue, 08 Jan 2019
A CONWOMAN who pretended to be her sister-in-law when caught breaking the law sobbed as a judge told her that only a custodial sentence would suffice.
But the sentence was suspended because Chloe Elaine Tomlin suffers from the Munchausen Syndrome.
The NHS describes it as “a psychological disorder where someone pretends to be ill or deliberately produces symptoms of illness in themselves... in order to have people care for them and be the centre of attention.”
Tomlin had persuaded hospital staff to carry out invasive and unpleasant procedures on her even though nothing was really wrong, the court heard.
The 25-year-old, who lives at Fairfield, Compton, but who also stays regularly with her social worker mother in Thatcham, was caught driving without a licence and without insurance.
When challenged, the judge was told, she handed police her sister-in-law’s licence, which she had without permission, and gave a false name.
Naomi Perry, prosecuting at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday, December 19, said Tomlin told lies in a subsequent police interview, thereby further wasting officers’ time.
However, the mother-of-one eventually admitted driving a Mini at Fairfield on June 13 otherwise than in accordance with a licence.
She also admitted providing a police officer with a false name and date of birth with the intention of perverting the course of justice, on the same occasion.
Ms Perry said Tomlin had nine previous convictions for fraud and dishonesty offences and that her latest offending placed her in breach of a conditional discharge.
She added: “On one occasion she fraudulently sold a horse trailer.
“She had purported to buy it from a family named Stallard but never paid them. She kept saying the money had been transferred and showing them emails of what purported to be the transfer but it never arrived.
“She meanwhile sold on the trailer to a Mr Lamont.
“I believe some of the other offences are benefit frauds.”
Lisa Stewart, defending, said her client suffered from Factitious Disorder, otherwise known as Munchausen Syndrome.
Ms Stewart suggested that her client’s illness “does affect her level of culpability” and described her as “an extremely vulnerable person” who would find imprisonment “overwhelming”.
Judge Nigel Daly said: “What is alarming is the previous convictions. And these latest offences were committed during the period of a conditional discharge.”
When Judge Daly said a custodial sentence of one kind or another was inevitable, Tomlin began weeping in the dock.
Turning to Tomlin, the judge summed up her recent offending and added: “You’ve also made false representations in the past. Perverting the course of justice strikes at the heart of the legal system and that is very serious.
“You have a worrying tendency to act deceitfully and dishonestly.”
However, the judge added that, having read pre-sentence reports including medical assessments, he was persuaded to take the unusual step of suspending the prison term.
Consequently, Tomlin was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with a 28-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
In addition, she was banned from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay a statutory victim services surcharge of £115.