7 Feb 2013

I'm honest, says benefit thief

A 48-year-old benefits cheat who swindled more than £10,000 of taxpayers cash claiming he was disabled was caught push-starting a friend's car while working as a hotel chef. (h/t Dave)

Stuart Collier, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, claimed he could barely walk and suffered dizzy spells if he stood up for too long - but he was later exposed as a fraud, Cannock Magistrates’ Court heard.

Investigators caught him working six different jobs between 2007 and 2011 while claiming disability benefits after a tip-off that he was a pastry chef at a top hotel in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.

Investigators filmed Collier hulking around heavy tool-boxes and jogging along as he pushed a friend’s car, and they also found that he had taken on jobs as a chef at two football clubs.

He was even discovered to have set up a limousine service and also worked as a lecturer. Collier admitted a charge of failing to notify change of circumstances.

The court heard he falsely claimed a total of £10,639 over four years. Collier was handed a four-week suspended prison sentence by the court and ordered to pay £100 in costs.

'The defendant said he had suffered arthritis in his knee since 2003, he claimed he suffered dizzy spells if he walked further than a few metres,’ Giles Rowden, prosecuting, said:
He said he had balance problems and on some days had difficulties even raising himself from a chair. However the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) were told he had been working in a kitchen.

When they began their investigation they found he had been involved with six different jobs. He found work as a kitchen assistant, driver, lecturer, pastry chef, chef and even founded his own online business from home.

When he was filmed by DWP officers he was seen walking from his vehicle into the kitchen at his place of work without a walking stick and carrying a toolbox.

He was also observed helping to jump start a car, where he was seen jogging in the spot and pushing the car.
Sentencing Collier, chair of the magistrates David Breen told him:
This was not fraudulent from the outset, but it was for a significant period of time. We feel this crosses the custody threshold.

Our stating point is six weeks in prison - we reduce that to four because of your guilty plea.

Because you have paid back the full amount we have decided to suspend the sentence for 12 months. You will be subject to a 12-month community order and will have to pay £100 in costs.
Collier, representing himself, told magistrates he was an ‘honest citizen’ but made a ‘silly mistake’

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