Woman gets 20 months for burying husband, not telling authorities

Feb. 18, 2014 at 1:26 AM
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SWANSEA, Wales, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A woman who buried her husband on the Welsh farm belonging to their religious sect got a 20-month sentence Monday for collecting his benefits after his death.

Rebekah Ladan Sturdey, 56, pleaded guilty to fraud and failing to provide her husband with a lawful burial, Wales Online reported. Investigators said she collected 77,000 pounds (almost $130,000) in disability benefits and other payments over almost five years.

Geoffrey Sturdey, 60 when he died in 2008, was the "shamar" or guardian of a sect that lived on a farm in Ceredigion, Prosecutor Huw Rees said.

"Before his death he chose his own burial plot from where he expected to be raised from the dead," Rees said. "They expected Jesus' return to Earth seven days after he died."

Rees said there was no sign Sturdey died by violence, and Judge Paul Thomas said he accepted that Sturdey died of natural causes, was cared for by his wife and others on the farm during his last days and buried as he wished. But he said that did not justify his wife telling authorities her husband was on an extended trip to Europe.

Another woman, Boger-Ore Adie, also got a 20-month sentence. Rees said she bought gold sovereign coins for those in the sect in 2010.

A third woman received a suspended sentence.

"You Boger-Ore Adie and you Rebekah Ladan Sturdey took advantage of the sad death of Mr. Sturdey to conceal the fact that he had passed away to thereby claim benefits to which you were not entitled," Thomas said. "Whatever the initial motive, it gave you the opportunity to enrich yourselves at the expense of the rest of us."

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