14 Jun 2013

‘Jiving’ benefit cheat risks losing his home after scam

A benefit cheat caught jiving after claiming he couldn't walk without two sticks faces being made homeless - after being ordered to repay £11,000, reports The Sun.

Leonard Priestley raked in £14,025 in disability living allowance over four years after he complained it took him four minutes to walk ten yards.

But the 58-year-old's scam was exposed when a government surveillance team filmed him carrying large items – as well as attending energetic dance lessons once a week for four years.

Priestley, from East Bowling, Bradford, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a 12-month community order with supervision.

But he was back in the dock this week at Bradford Crown Court for a Proceeds of Crime hearing.

Prosecutor Robert Stephenson said the total amount payable was £11,000.

Judge Jonathan Durham-Hall gave Priestley six months to pay or face eight months in prison - but the fraudster has revealed he will have to put his house up for sale to pay his debt.

Priestley said:
I know what I did was wrong. I originally started the dance lessons because my doctor told me I needed to try exercising to help my mobility. A friend suggested I came along to a dance lesson with him, and it’s helped.”
The court heard that benefits officers had Priestley under surveillance between March and September 2011, when they discovered he had attended dance classes once a week for four years.

Judge David Hatton QC asked at the time: “What sort of dance classes?”

“Jive, and kicks and turns and the like,” the prosecutor replied.

Priestley said his original benefit claim had been genuine - but he failed to notify the authorities when his condition improved. He said: "I meant to let the DWP know that my mobility had improved but family issues kept cropping up so I never got round to it."

The court heard how Priestley has already paid £910 – but he said he will have to sell his house in order to repay the debt.

The fraudulent period spanned from November 2007 to November 2011.

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