A TRANSEXUAL community worker who allegedly swindled hundreds of thousands of pounds in benefits using two identities is awaiting a verdict in her trial.
It is claimed that Marianne Jonson, also known as Countess Mariaska Romanov, fraudulently received housing benefits while living with her former husband and has since been handed thousands of pounds in disability payments despite working.
Harrow Crown Court heard how Ms Jonson, born Robert Duxbury, had changed her name nine or 10 times in the past 28 years after undergoing gender reassignment and had allegedly been using the Romanov and Jonson names to claim benefits.
It is also claimed she lied on medical assessment forms, stating she had 'paraplegia', to claim disability handouts.
During the three-week trial witnesses claimed she had told them she was being looked after by her 'twin sister' in her specially-fitted home in Rawlings Crescent, Wembley, and that she was often walking unaided while working at the Roundwood Lodge Café, in Roundwood Park, Harlesden.
A housing officer said that during her appointments with Ms Jonson, which were always pre-arranged, she would lie in bed with a scarf around her head and glasses on saying she was unable to get up - making it impossible to assess her mobility.
She also said that during another visit, she met Ms Jonson's walking 'twin' but was unable to tell if they were identical because the defendant had always been covered up when they had met before. Ms Jonson claims she never told anyone she had a twin and that a lift accident left her with 'intermittent back pain', leaving her immobile and in a wheelchair, but that the pain would ease, allowing her to walk.
She says although she helped relaunch the cafe, she never worked there and was not on the payroll.
She claims that she raised the money to fund major refurbishment by securing loans of almost £100,000 and pawning a whopping £80,000 worth of jewellery.
Ms Jonson also claims that artwork, expensive jewellery and clothes found at her home during a raid were all paid for before her accident during a 30-year career as a freelance model or given to her as gifts.
It was revealed that she had accounts in both the Jonson and Romanov names, as well as access to a number of others. Prosecutors say she was swindling money by making transfers between accounts while Ms Jonson's defence counsel say she was merely 'foolishly disorganised and reckless with her money'.
At the time of going to press the jury was deliberating its verdict.
She faces 24 counts for offences of false accounting, obtaining property by deception, false representation to obtain benefits and fraud.
ALSO KNOWN AS...
The legitimate name changes made by Marianne Jonson
* Born November 28, 1960 - Robert Duxbury
* 1981 - changes name to Bobbi Duxbury
* 1983 - changes name to Nina Najib Bt Hamza II
* 1985 - becomes Nina Hull (her mother's maiden name)
* 1988 - Nina Franklin
* 1989 - Harley Jones
* 1990 - Marianne Jonson
* 1991 - Harley Pitsillidou (her husband's family name)
* 1999 - Marianne Jonson
* 2002 - Countess Mariaska Romanov
* Later changes her name back to Marianne Jonson