A mother of three who was awarded the £1.3million family home and a Turkish villa in a divorce battle avoided jail over a benefits scam today.
Ellen De Bruin, 55, failed to disclose ownership of the holiday property to the Department of Work and Pensions in November 2011.
De Bruin raked in £10,000 after making a false claim for income support as well as £30,000 in legal aid during the divorce wrangle.
She hit the headlines in 2015 when she was awarded the £1.3million family home and a Turkish villa, worth £145,000 in a divorce battle her husband Stephen De Bruin.
Ellen De Bruin, 55, left, has been found guilty of income support fraud despite winning a family home and a Turkish villa in her divorce from husband Stephen, right, in 2015
Mr Dr Bruin worked as an international haulage contractor, but his wife had been living on benefits following their split in 2010.
A divorce judge ruled she should be given ownership over their five-bedroom home in Hornchurch, Essex, as well as their ‘Villa Debruin’ holiday home in Turkey.
She was given a £16,000 endowment policy and was awarded £800 a month in periodical payments.
Dr Bruin told the court during the two week trial that she was ‘furious’ with her husband for breaking apart the family, and denied owning the villa when making the benefit claims.
She said it was held by the courts at the time and had never made any income from it, adding she had paid back much of the legal aid.
De Bruin was supported throughout the trial by her three sons now aged 16, 18 and 22.
Jurors took less than two hours to return guilty verdicts on both counts, with De Bruin facing later at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
The fraud came to light when the Legal Aid Agency were tipped off by the Department of Work and Pensions, the court heard.
De Bruin, of Hornchurch, was convicted on two counts of fraud.
Passing a community order Judge Patricia Lees ordered De Bruin to complete 100 hours unpaid work.
‘I accept that you have been subject to a very difficult divorce from a man whose conduct towards you has been most unattractive,’ the judge said.
‘Over the past seven years you have brought up you sons almost alone.
‘When you made your decision not to disclose your interest in the villa you were in desperate circumstances, financially and emotionally.
De Bruin was awarded this £1.3million family home in east London in the divorce in 2015
‘The right sentence is a community penalty with no restrictions to your liberty.’
De Bruin stared blankly at the floor as the sentence was passed.
Members of her family wept in the public gallery as she left the dock.
Alex Krikler, defending, said: ‘It was a difficult relationship, and a difficult divorce.
‘At the she made the application she had been left in debt. She wasn’t deriving any income from the property in Turkey.
‘The income support is being paid back. £30,000 has been repaid of legal aid that was returned via the solicitors.’
De Bruin, of Parkstone Avenue, Hornchurch, was convicted on two counts of fraud and given a community order.