29 Jul 2013

Benefit thief videoed in 2011, jailed in 2013

A great-grandmother who claimed it took her a minute to hobble five yards with a crutch has been jailed for four months after she was found holding down a hectic job at a supermarket.

Patricia Kent, 71, began claiming disability benefits 13 years ago after suffering from minor illnesses.

But two years later, without informing officials, she began working a 28-hour week at Tesco, a court heard.

She held her job behind the tills until December last year, cheating the taxpayer out of £32,000.

The sprightly checkout assistant’s life of fraud only ended when investigator Paul Carlisle from the Department for Work & Pensions received a tip-off about her.

He filmed her on three occasions marching from her car into the store in Chelmsford, Essex and walking briskly round the aisles unaided. He also saw her processing goods at the tills.

Judge Christopher Ball QC told Kent, who was convicted of benefit fraud: 'You could have been forgiven if you acknowledged your dishonesty.

'But you brazenly, in front of the jury, refused to accept how much your condition had improved.'

He said at Chelmsford Crown Court that she now accepted she had been wrong.

But this confession had come 'too little, too late.'

He said: 'It would be the easiest thing in the world to say a 71-year-old in poor health won’t be locked up.

'However, the public need to know, if you cheat for this long in this way, there is a price to pay.'

Kent, from Writtle, must also repay the money.

The judge added:
I have seen the video recording of you walking comfortably from your car, walking through the store and doing your job - a million miles away from the claim of walking only a few yards in 60 seconds. As a result of your claim, you received enhanced benefits until your cheating was discovered.
h/t Dave, who points out that the video was taken nearly two years ago.

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