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17 Dec 2015

"Ian Kognito" was benefits thief

A benefits cheat who pocketed £5,000 in disability handouts while claiming he was too ill to get out of bed was filmed performing as a male burlesque dancer called 'Ian Kognito'. (h/t Dave)

Mark Hetherington had tried to disguise himself with a mask as he performed his routines at clubs, festivals and at private parties across the UK, describing himself as 'the stripping ninja'.

But the 51-year-old from Blackpool, was caught out after investigators discovered he was working as a dancer and nude art class model while claiming Disability Living Allowance, and compiled a dossier of videos of his performances.

Hetherington admitted committing benefit fraud between May 2012 and August 2014, during which time he was overpaid £5,018 in handouts after he failed to disclose an improvement in his medical condition to the Department of Work and Pensions.

Malcolm Isherwood, prosecuting, told magistrates in Blackpool that Hetherington had claimed he could not get out of bed without assistance, could not cook for himself and needed assistance and support if he ever managed to leave his home. He also said he could not go into supermarkets, and was agoraphobic so going out would leave him suffering panic attacks. He claimed he hardly ever managed to sleep and needed help to clean his teeth.

'Hetherington said he was anxious all the time and especially in social circumstances and could not mix with others because of anxiety,' Mr Isherwood said. 'However the DWP started to investigate and discovered he was working as what is known as a "boylesque" dancer and also nude modelling for art classes. As a dancer he appeared across the UK in front of audiences and at private parties. Undercover investigators collated film of him as he worked. However he failed to tell the authorities his condition had improved.'

Hetherington learned his trade as a dancer from his girlfriend, grandmother Kathy Rowan who performs under the name Kozmic Kitty. He performs alongside Ms Rowan, whose performance involves wearing nipple tassels which are set on fire, as well as a balloon bursting act. She also works as a professional astrologer.

Mr Isherwood said that Hetherington was interviewed and claimed that his erotic dancing was a hobby and he did not earn much from it. 'He could not explain when asked how he was now coping with working with and being watched by perfect strangers,' said the prosecutor.

John McLaren, mitigating, said Hetherington had suffered a loss of confidence when he lost his job as a screen printer and his marriage broke up.

'He accepts he should have told the DWP that his confidence had improved and he was getting better,' he told the court. 'He was pulling himself around and this started with the life modelling. He was not paid a lot sometimes just £15 a time. The dancing came a bit later and friends encouraged him to do it. What he did to improve his life is not everyone's cup of tea but it is Mark Hetherington's cup of tea. He is now paying back the money at £10 a week.'

Hetherington was given a one year community order during which he must carry out 150 hours unpaid work, and was also ordered to pay £125 court costs.

Chairman of the bench Ian Robertson told him: 'Defrauding the public purse is a serious matter.'

Source with um bizarre pictures

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