The mother of murdered teenager Scarlett Keeling appeared in court today to beg for more time to pay back nearly £15,000 in fraudulently claimed benefits.
Fiona MacKeown, 47, dishonestly obtained child benefit payments even though her former partner Richard Keeling was handing over £350-a-month for three of her children – including Scarlett.
Scarlett, 15, was drugged, raped and murdered in Goa during a family holiday in 2008.
Mother-of-nine MacKeown was jailed for eight months, suspended for two years, after she admitted one charge of dishonestly obtaining money transfers at a hearing last April.
She was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of community work and repay the full amount cash.
MacKeown was due to pay the remaining £14,650.49p to the Department of Work and Pensions by February 27.
But she appeared at Exeter Crown Court today to plead for more time in repaying the cash, which she claimed she had to raise by selling a plot of land.
Judge Graham Cottle granted her an extension but warned she would face a 12 month sentence if she failed to repay the full amount by August 27.
Samson D’Souza, 28, and Placido Carvalho, 36, are on trial in relation to Scarlett’s death.
They are accused of culpable homicide, grievous sexual assault, destroying evidence, administering drugs with intent to harm, assault with criminal force with intent to outrage a woman’s modesty and administering drugs with intent to harm.
MacKeown’s court appearance comes just days after the chief prosecutor in the case in India resigned, throwing the trial into disarray as a new prosecutor decides whether he will take on the case.