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Woman stages burglary at her Newbury home for insurance claim

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Joanne Lesley Coates even smashed up her own flat screen television in an attempt to inject more realism into her tale, the court was told on Thursday, February 5.
But Helen Waite, prosecuting, said detectives “smelled a rat” and began chipping away at her story.
Eventually, “the admissions came tumbling out,” she added.
Nevertheless, the court heard, “she maintained her fraud over a period of time. It involved a police and insurance company investigation and demonstrated a level of persistence and a level of sophistication”.
Ms Waite said the 47-year-old reported a break-in at her Queens Road home last October and made an insurance claim for £18,070.
She said a glass front window and a flat screen television had been smashed, jewellery and electrical goods were missing and Ms Coates claimed she was “too frightened to stay in her own home”.
Other goods were stacked in the hallway as if the burglars had been disturbed, the court was told.
Detectives investigated for three weeks but, Ms Waite, said: “The officers smelled a rat – they have a nose for these things. Her report raised some concerns with the officers and they delved into it more deeply.”
Eventually Ms Coates was challenged and admitted she had staged at least part of the burglary, hiding her valuables in a storage unit, magistrates were told.
Ms Waites said: “She stated she had ransacked her room to make it look like a burglary. She had smashed some of her own items. It had been a spur of the moment decision.”
Ms Coates admitted committing fraud by false representation, intending to make a gain from AXA Insurance UK between September 29 and October 22 last year.
However she became upset during the prosecution’s outline of the case, crying out: “That’s all wrong – it’s not true.”
Hilary Thomas, defending, explained: “It is her contention that an actual burglary did take place.”
She said her client had merely augmented her insurance claim by adding to the list of things stolen.
Magistrates ruled that, despite having a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment at their disposal, their powers of punishment were insufficient.
Ms Coates was released on unconditional bail and told she will be sentenced at a later date by a judge sitting at Reading Crown Court.

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