Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Grandmother's radio names fraud

Court generic
Hurst forged fake name change documents to try and claim winnings

An "obsessed" grandmother has admitted using bogus identities to take part in radio competitions.

Bright Bernadette Hurst, 44, of Arundel Road, Worthing, West Sussex, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud at London's Southwark Crown Court.

Hurst was given a 40-week sentence suspended for two years and ordered to pay 11,000 in legal costs.

She was also banned from entering radio or television competitions and will have to perform 150 hours unpaid work.

The court heard how Hurst, a mother-of-three, entered radio competitions which she was ineligible for due to previous prizes she had won, from 30 March to 11 July 2007.

Working from a specially equipped office at home, she forged fake name change documents and other paperwork in an attempt to claim the winnings, which included a 171,000 Magic FM jackpot.

But voice recognition tests and other checks showed she had been lying and led to her arrest.

Andrew Coleman, prosecuting, told the court how even after being arrested for trying to defraud Magic FM, Capital FM, and Virgin Radio, she entered a further Capital FM competition, winning 15,000.

Passing sentence, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith told Hurst she was "an obsessive".

"You entered competitions when you knew you were not allowed to. You were then prepared to go to elaborate and dishonest lengths to keep hold of the money and the prizes you had won," he said.

Defence barrister Michael Turner said: "Her need to enter these competitions was to attract attention and to get self esteem."

The judge told Hurst her crimes "clearly passed the custody threshold" but the fact she had a personality disorder, two children still attending school, and helped to care for her granddaughter meant he could suspend her sentence.

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