4 Oct 2012

Curfew for disability benefit fraud

A football manager who claimed nearly £7,000 in benefits because he was 'virtually unable to walk' was caught playing and training with his team.

John Alexander, 68, was able to claim Disability Living Allowance after telling benefit officials he was barely able to move.

But he was caught red-handed training his football team - jogging, kicking, retrieving loose balls and gesticulating from the side of a pitch.

Fraud investigators filmed him running, nimbly turning and passing the ball with his non league side FC Manadon in Plymouth, Devon.

Alexander, of Plymouth, admitted dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting his entitlement to benefit between August 2010 and November 2011.

Claire Tresidder, for the Department for Work and Pensions, said Alexander declared that he was 'virtually unable to walk' in his application for benefits.

He said: 'The department established that he had been involved in football in a management capacity.

'Footage was obtained showing him basically involved in games and being mobile at the time.'

Footage of Alexander playing and training his side was shown to Plymouth Magistrates' Court.

The court heard he was manager at Plymouth and West Devon Combination League team FC Manadon.

Mrs Tresidder told the court that he should have declared that he was more mobile and investigators believed that his benefit would have been stopped.

The total amount overpaid was £6,737.80.

Mrs Tresidder said he was repaying the money to the department out of his continuing benefits.

David Teague, for Alexander, said he had suffered injuries, including a broken back, in a car accident, a fishing accident and had also fallen down the stairs.

He added the claim was legitimate when it started.

But Mr Teague said: 'He is a proud and determined man and wanted to remain as able-bodied as he could. He wanted to remain in contact with the outside world.'

He added he took medication and fought the pain to manage the club, but accepted he should have told the department.

Magistrates gave him a three-month curfew with an electronic tag.

He must remain indoors from 9pm until 6am every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday until the end of the year.

Alexander must also pay costs of £50.

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