Robert Duxbury / Marianne Jonson

Robert Duxbury / Marianne Jonson (aka Countess Mariaska Romanov), 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.

Duxbury/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 Duxbury/Jonson 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 Duxbury/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, Duxbury/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 Duxbury/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 Duxbury/Jonson used to fund a lifestyle of foreign travel and lavish spending on clothes and beauty treatments.

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

Photo via Brent & Kilburn Times