A childminder who conned taxpayers out of more than £51,000 in disability benefits by claiming she could not walk is facing jail.
Candace Dellaway, 49, from New Addington, lied for nine years that numbness in her legs meant she was constantly in danger of falling over and hurting herself.
Despite claiming she needed help at home, Dellaway continued to work full-time in childcare between June 2006 and October 2015.
When confronted about her lies, she insisted that all she did was watch children and left the heavy lifting to other staff.
The court heard Dellaway made genuine benefit claims for a back condition in March 2003 and June 2004 up until 2006. But she failed to tell the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that her condition had improved and made repeated ‘exaggerated’ false claims in May 2006 and April 2009.
In total she received £51,772.53 in disability payments by claiming she was ‘unable or virtually unable to walk’.
Prosecutor Augusta Akusu-Ossai said: ‘She stated that the effort or working was dangerous, it exacerbated her back condition and she loses her balance and falls as her legs go numb and give way'.
Dellaway also falsely claimed she had problems getting ‘in and out of bed and the bath’. But her work colleagues gave statements saying she was a ‘fully active member of staff’.
Miss Akusu-Ossai added: ‘Her full time job in child care, involving physically demanding tasks on a daily basis contradicted her condition as she claimed.’
When interviewed Dellaway said they were ‘all lying’ and her role was ‘not an active one’. She said her job wasn’t physical as she ‘just watches children’ and did not lift heavy equipment, as she would just ask other staff to do it.
Miss Akusu-Ossai told the court: ‘The Disability Living Allowance was given on the grounds that she was unable or virtually unable to walk and needed help from another person and this requirement was through the day and the night. It was paid via an automated credit transfer into her Lloyds bank account. It was paid on the basis of what she had disclosed, her medical circumstances, at the time of the original claim and notified the DWP of any change of circumstances or improvement in her medical condition. In the process of making her Disability Living Allowance claims Mrs Dellaway exaggerated her medical condition.’
Magistrate Douglas Hunter adjourned the case for reports leaving all options open including the case to go to the crown court for sentence.
He said: ‘These matters are extremely serious. The amount that has been claimed exceeds £50,000 and because of that a custodial sentence is appropriate. However, before that we are going to ask for reports on you all options open including a custodial sentence and committal to the crown court as the appropriate sentence will exceed the sentencing powers which magistrates can give.’
Dellaway pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing notify a change of circumstances affecting entitlement to social security benefit and two charges of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit.
She is currently paying back the £51,000 at a rate of £20 a week, though she did say the rate of payment ‘could go up’.
Dellaway left the court by sneaking out of a back door and was spotted walking swiftly away down the road yelling ‘fuck off’ at a group of reporters. She was released on unconditional bail to next appear at Croydon Magistrates Court on 26 April when she will either be sentenced or her case will be sent to the crown court.