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1 Jun 2013

Conditional discharge for ex-police benefit thief

A former police officer was paid more than £6,500 in disability living allowance – despite working as a driver and coffin bearer for a funeral director. (h/t Mick)

But Michael Clarke, 55, walked free from court after he was sentenced to a conditional discharge.

Magistrates heard Clarke, of Hemsworth near Pontefract, was medically discharged from the police force after suffering a stroke in 2004 while working as a traffic officer.

The court at Wakefield heard the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) granted him an indefinite disability living allowance in 2004, which paid for a mobility car. However, an inquiry later launched by the DWP revealed Clarke had worked for A&M Hadfield funeral directors as a driver and coffin bearer since April 2010. The court was told he had helped out at up to 48 funerals.

When interviewed by the DWP, Clarke told investigators his health had improved from 2009 onwards. Clarke, who has appealed against the DWP decision to stop his disability benefits, admitted failing to notify the DWP of a change in circumstances affecting his entitlement to benefits.

Prosecutor Rory Byrne said Clarke received a total of £6,516 in benefit payments which he should not have done while working for the funeral director.

Mr Byrne added: “Part of the role involved carrying coffins, and at some point lowering coffins in to the grave.”

The court heard Clarke had £8,000 in savings and was being paid his £1,300 a month police pension while he was getting the benefit payments.

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