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30 Aug 2016

Woman must repay £17k benefits

A Devon woman caught waxing the legs of an undercover investigator while claiming disability benefit has been ordered to pay back more than £17,000. (h/t Dave)

Tracy Carter-Lunn, aged 55, must hand over the cash or face a year in jail.

She was handed a suspended prison sentence in May for pocketing payments while capable of work.

Plymouth Crown Court heard she also carried two cups of tea to customers at her family's salon despite having nerve damage in her right arm. A judge also told her that she was "walking around as happy as Larry" while claiming a separate back injury had left her unable to walk.

Carter-Lunn, co-owner of 50 Shades of Hair and Beauty Salon, in Efford, returned to court to face a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Jason Beal, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said she had made £17,071 through her offending. He added that she had assets of £49,100 to cover the sum. Michael Green, for Carter-Lunn, agreed the figures but asked for three months to pay. He said she and her husband needed time to either sell or remortgage a property.

Judge Ian Lawrie ordered that she pay the £17,701 and imposed a 12-month prison sentence in default.

Carter-Lunn admitted dishonestly failing to promptly notify a change of circumstances which she knew would affect her claim for Disability Living Allowance. But she disputed the extent of her offending and faced a fact-finding hearing in front of a judge.

Undercover investigator Jess Hefford told that hearing that Mrs Carter-Lunn used both hands to apply and remove the wax strips on her legs back in July 2014. She also told the court that Carter-Lunn carried the cups in saucers without spilling any at the salon.

Carter-Lunn at first claimed Disability Living Allowance back in 2001 because of nerve damage to her right arm sustained when she fell through a glass door at the age of seven. Prosecutors told the court that the claim may have been honest, but her condition improved, at least from 2004. She then started work as a healthcare assistant, performing duties such as opening and closing sample pots and sterile bags at Derriford Hospital.

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