A TV extra who starred in Sherlock , Torchwood and Casualty has been jailed after stealing almost £72,000 in benefits. (h/t Dave)
John Lewis admitted dishonestly claiming the cash at Cardiff Crown Court, according to Wales Online.
He was caught when he appeared in another TV show “walking or skipping” across the road.
The 65-year-old obtained £54,597.35 in disability allowance between November 29, 2006, and May 20, 2015, and £12,991.12 in income support between February 2, 2007, and November 12, 2012. He also took £4,408.20 in pension credit from September 13, 2014, and May 20, 2015.
Eugene Egan, prosecuting, said: “He claimed he was not fit to work but he worked as an extra in various productions including Sherlock, Torchwood and Casualty and a show made for Sky TV called The Cafe, directed by Craig Cash and written by Ralf Little. He featured in episodes three and six. There was footage of him shown in interview of him walking or skipping across the road. He said in interview he had behaved like an idiot.”
John Ryan, defending, asked the judge to give Lewis a suspended sentence.
“He accepts he worked as an extra in films,” Mr Ryan said. "It was not regular employment on a daily basis. The money helped a little but there is no suggestion the benefit gave him a lavish lifestyle. There have been times when he is immobile.”
He said Lewis was now housebound with his wife, who has been treated for throat and breast cancer.
The court heard he had a series of knee operations resulting in him having two knee replacements, that he suffers from arthritis, has problems with his hips and is waiting for a hip replacement. “He walks with the aid of a stick,” Mr Ryan said. “There have been times when he is immobile and other times when his mobility is increased.” The main reason he began working was “to get out of the house” and feel he was “doing something of value.”
Mr Ryan told the court he cared for his wife and his 14-year-old grandson. “He has a low risk of re-offending,” he said. “His principal concern is how his wife will cope without him and the effect it will have on his grandson. His incarceration could lead to even more problems for others.
But Judge Jonathan Furness decided the case was too serious. He said: “Over eight-and-a-half-years in respect of disability living allowance, and lesser periods in respect of income support and pension credit, you received a total of just under £72,000, which you should not have had or not have had all of it.” He told Lewis he was “working as a film extra and did not declare all that income.”
“I’ve to bear in mind the length of time over which the offences were committed,” Judge Furness said. “I’ve listened to everything said on your behalf. I’ve read the pre-sentence report and I have regard to your age, health and status as a carer, both to your wife and grandson, who lives with the both of you.”
The judge said only “an immediate custodial sentence was appropriate” and jailed him for 20 weeks.
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