In the Media

Man jailed for keeping dead father's body while claiming his benefits

PUBLISHED March 14, 2012

Christopher Blackburn, who failed to report his father's death and claimed his benefit payments, sentenced to three years

A man who lived with his dead father for nearly five months and claimed his benefit payments has been jailed for three years.

Christopher Blackburn, 29, failed to report the death of his father, Guy Blackburn, after he died from natural causes. He left his father's body in the house and continued to live there. When his 10-year-old daughter visited she was told her grandfather was asleep in his room.

Police officers found the body of Guy Blackburn, 54, on a bed in the living room of his home in Penwortham, Lancashire, last March after neighbours raised concerns.

Christopher Blackburn, who now lives in Birkby, Huddersfield, admitted preventing a lawful and decent burial of a dead body between 31 October 2010 and 22 March last year. He also pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to theft after pocketing ?1,869 of income support payments he collected from the post office.

Passing sentence at Preston crown court on Wednesday, Judge Anthony Russell, the recorder of Preston, told Blackburn: "Such offending is abhorrent to all decent-minded people who will be disgusted by your behaviour. It was callous and offensive to his [Guy Blackburn's] friends and family, who no doubt have been caused considerable distress by these circumstances. It also seems to me that you were motivated in part by greed."

The court heard that Blackburn collected his father's fortnightly income support payments and spent the money largely on himself. He paid a deposit for a laptop, pairs of trainers and alcohol.

Kirsten McAteer, prosecuting, said the defendant had moved into his father's house after he separated from his girlfriend and the mother of his child. He lived upstairs while his father slept downstairs.

Russell told Blackburn: "You pretended he was still alive, misleading others ? particularly your own daughter, a little girl. You have shown little remorse for your offending. A decent person would have immediately admitted to the police that this poor man had died months before, but you tried to pretend he had been dead for only days."

Craig Cleminson, senior crown prosecutor from the Crown Prosecution Service North West Area, said: "There is no knowing how long Christopher Blackburn would have continued to conceal his father's death if a neighbour had not raised her concerns with the housing association." © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds