Marianne Jonson

Marianne Jonson
Photo via Brent & Kilburn Times

Marianne Jonson / Countess Mariaska Romanov / Robert Duxbury, a male who identifies as a trans woman,  was convicted of 22 counts of benefit fraud at Harrow Crown Court in 2010. Jonson was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, reflecting the seriousness of the fraud which totalled £197,000.

Jonson, 49, pretended to be paraplegic to receive disability allowances, care payments and to live in social housing which was reserved for people with disabilities.

During the trial it emerged that Jonson, who was born a man called Robert Duxbury, presented medical records to the court which had been falsified from images found on the internet and purporting to be written by an orthopaedic surgeon who turned out to be deceased.

When Jonson’s fraud was discovered, the defendant even claimed to have an identical twin sister who was able-bodied.

Simon Lane from Brent Council said: “Particularly distasteful is the £58,000 in direct care payments, which have a direct and real impact on the council’s ability to provide care to those in real need.”

Jonson & Louis Theroux
Photo via Not on Safari in Harlesden blog

Simultaneously, Jonson (who used ten different identities) ran a lucrative, though supposedly not-for-profit, community café in a Brent park as Countess Mariaska Romanov without paying rent or submitting audited accounts to the council; it was estimated Jonson owed backdated rent of £160,000.

The council’s investigations showed large sums of cash had been deposited in bank accounts from the café which Jonson used to fund a lifestyle of foreign travel and lavish spending on clothes and beauty treatments.

Jonson had even roped in local celebrity Louis Theroux to back a fight with the council to retain the contract to run the café.