A COUPLE who once masterminded a jobs-for-cash fraud that netted them more than £250,000 have won a £3m pay-out for their disabled child.

Richard Alderson, 34, and his wife, Alison, 36, won £3.15m of public money to help them care for daughter Rebecca.

The couple, of Briarhill, Chester- le-Street, brought an action against North Durham NHS after Rebecca was born severely brain damaged due to 'negligent management' of Mrs Alderson's labour in November 1997.

They were initially claiming more than £6m, but a settlement was reached on Tuesday part-way through a hearing at the High Court sitting in Newcastle.

The trust had already admitted liability on behalf of the former Dryburn Hospital in Durham City.

The court had heard how Rebecca was effectively born dead but took a gasp of breath after 20 minutes. She is totally dependant on others for her daily needs, is unable to walk, and has communication problems.

The couple's barrister, Anne Gumbel, told the court: "They are entitled to a commercial carer to relieve them of the extra burden of looking after the immediate physical and emotional and cognitive needs of a severely disabled child, even though the parents still have a parental role."

Rebecca lived with her grandmother from the age of three because her mother could not lift her, but moved back with her mother when her grandfather became ill.

In 2002, the Aldersons were in court for different reasons.

The couple conned more than £250,000 out of people desperate to make money by doing extra work from home.

Richard Alderson was jailed for three-and-a-half years for conspiracy to defraud and his wife received a two-year sentence suspended for two years.

They advertised for workers to fill envelopes for mail order firms and pledged to pay £60 per 100 envelopes. But only two people out of 16,000 made enough from the work to recover their initial payment of £35.

When workers rang to complain they found themselves talking on a premium rate £1-a-minute phone line. Their victims included a woman of 84, a bride saving for her wedding, and a single mother on £70 a week.