London (AFP) - A woman in Britain was jailed on Monday for subjecting her children to unnecessary medical procedures so that she could claim hundreds of thousands of pounds in state benefits.
The unnamed woman from Croydon, south London, was jailed for seven and a half years after she spent at least a decade pretending her son and daughter suffered from a string of health problems.
Following the mother's complaints the children underwent surgery to have feeding tubes fitted to their stomachs, despite their being able to eat normally.
Her son was administered steroid medication to treat severe asthma, although while he was at school he did not show the symptoms described by his mother.
The boy was also encouraged by his mother to show symptoms she believed were consistent with autism, police said in a statement.
As a result of the supposed health problems the 48-year-old woman falsely claimed 87,400 pounds ($112,550, 100,630 euros) in disability benefits.
Police said she falsely claimed a total of 375,200 pounds in benefits, including income support while living with her employed partner.
Additionally, investigators uncovered unused medication at the woman's home which they said cost the national health service 145,900 pounds.
Prosecutor Malcolm McHaffie said the woman was "motivated by dishonesty and greed".
"As a result of her extraordinary cruelty, this individual is now going to spend a significant amount of time in prison," he said in a statement.
"That a mother should go to such lengths of child cruelty, spanning at least 10 years, to support the false and exaggerated benefits claims that she made is beyond comprehension," McHaffie added.
The conviction was the culmination of a three-year investigation, after child protection authorities alerted police that the mother may have been lying about her children's health.
A total of 114 witnesses gave evidence in the case, which resulted in the woman being found guilty of charges including fraud and child cruelty.
Stuart Parsons, an investigating officer, said he found it "staggering" that the mother's own actions led to her children undergoing unnecessary medical treatment.
"She lied at every opportunity, presenting herself as a lone parent coping with ill and vulnerable children.
The reality was that she resided with her partner and fabricated her children's conditions for personal financial gain," he said.