Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Scarlett Keeling's mother to face benefit fraud charge

Fiona MacKeown leaving Barnstaple Magistrates' Court
Fiona MacKeown is accused of fraudulently claiming over 51,000

The mother of a Devon teenager who was killed in India has appeared in court in Devon charged with falsely claiming more than £51,000 in income support.

The charge against Fiona MacKeown from Bradworthy relates to payments claimed between February 2005 and March 2008.

Her 15-year-old daughter, Scarlett Keeling, was found dead on a beach in Goa on 19 February 2008.

Ms MacKeown entered no plea and Barnstaple Magistrates referred the case to Exeter Crown Court.

The period of the alleged £51,401.49 fraud includes the time when Ms MacKeown had taken a six-month family holiday with Scarlett to Goa.

Stupefying drug

The Department of Work and Pensions alleges when Ms MacKeown claimed income support, she failed to declare other income.

Magistrates said it was a serious charge which should be heard by a higher court.

Scarlett Keeling
Two men have been charged in connection with Scarlett's death

Ms MacKeown was released on bail and is expected to appear before a judge at Exeter Crown at a later date. She left court without commenting.

During the family's time in the resort of Anjuna, Scarlett was left in the care of a 25-year-old tour guide while the rest went travelling.

When her body was found, investigators said she had drowned, but after a second post-mortem examination, fought for by Ms MacKeown, evidence of attack injuries were revealed and India's Central Bureau of Investigation began a fresh investigation.

Two men, Samson D'Souza, 28, and Placido Carvalho, who is in his 30s, have since been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

They have also been charged with assault with intent to outrage a woman's modesty and administering a stupefying drug with intent to harm.



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SEE ALSO
Goa death mother on fraud charge
19 Nov 09 |  Devon
Two charged over Scarlett death
21 Oct 09 |  Devon

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