THE family of a convicted fraudster have vigorously denied his claims he had been sole carer for his mother and grandchildren after the death of his daughter.

Nigel Lelliott, 48, was sentenced to four years in prison on five counts of fraud, including fleecing £100,000 from a man left paralysed following a serious car accident.

His daughter, Natasha MacDivitt, 27, died in May last year after a battle with cervical cancer, leaving behind husband Danny and children Josh 11, Hayley, nine, and Katie, five.

Speaking in Lelliott’s defence at Taunton Crown Court last month, Daran Samat said he was sole carer for his elderly mother and the three children.

“Perhaps you could say he only has himself to blame for this, but the children are perhaps going to be the ones who pay the price,” he said.

But Danielle MacDivitt, Natasha’s sister-in-law, speaking on behalf of the family, has said Lelliott had not had any contact with the children in six months.

“Although they were not blood related, Natasha was Nigel’s daughter by name her whole life,” said Danielle. “He became her dad.

“She died in May 2013 after contracting cervical cancer. Because she had been too young to go for her smear test, by the time she got to the right age it had spread all around her body. By the time she died she had about ten different forms of cancer, including in her lungs and her spine.

“My brother-in-law, Danny, was her husband, now her widower. He has full custody of the children, and Nigel has not even tried to make contact with them for at least six months.

“Although we saw him a lot just after Natasha died, that is to be expected of any grandparent when the children’s mother has just passed away. He stayed at Danny’s house for about a week after she died, but we have heard nothing from him since then.

“He has never been a carer for those children. While Natasha was ill, he had the children round to stay a couple of times, but he has never been their carer.

“He has lied about that to aid his defence in court, and when we found out about that I was fuming. I immediately rang Danny’s brother, and they have both been quite upset about it.

“Danny has cared for the children ever since Natasha died. He split his time between looking after them and work.”

The family are now giving fresh statements to the police to clarify the situation.

“He used this as a defence to get his sentence reduced, and it has worked,” added Danielle. “He also said in court he was a carer for his mother, but that would be impossible. He lives in Swindon and his mother lives in Cornwall, so he could not have been there for her full time.

“We are not going to miss him in the slightest, and the kids are not going to miss him. We are all quite glad he has been arrested and gone to prison, because he has got away with it up until now.

“We have been told he smirked and winked when he was sentenced, which just sums him up. Nigel was always flash with his money, which we now know wasn’t his. He was all about himself, and has rubbed a few people up the wrong way. He had a girlfriend who had her own daughter, and neither of them want anything else to do with him.”

Lelliott had 10 previous convictions of dishonesty, 65 offences of similar matters, and has been declared bankrupt twice.