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13 Feb 2018

Jail for £48k disability benefit fraud

A benefit cheat who pocketed £48,000 in disability handouts was busted after being caught on hidden camera carrying heavy items.

Michael Holland was also filmed easily getting in and out of a van while working as a labourer for Aspire Housing – despite claiming he could only walk 30 yards.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard he had ‘grossly exaggerated’ his condition ‘from day one’ to claim disability living allowance over 21 years.

Now the dad-of-three, from Blurton, has been jailed for 10 months.

Prosecutor Nick Tatlow said the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) carried out secret surveillance on the defendant from September 3 to September 22, 2015.

Mr Tatlow said: “He was carrying out ordinary duties. He was seen getting in and out of the van without any difficulty. He was able to walk without difficulty or discomfort. He was seen carrying heavy items. He was seen to carry out all the ordinary duties of a manual labourer. His immediate supervisor described him as being able to walk 90 yards across the yard at normal pace without difficulty.”

The court heard the defendant’s original claim in February 1995 was refused and the decision was upheld after he asked for it to be reviewed. But Holland sought help from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and it was claimed on his behalf that his situation was so bad he could only manage to walk 50 yards before having to stop a few times a week.

However, it was stated that most of the time he could only manage 30 yards, and it would take him 10 minutes to cover those distances.

Mr Tatlow said: “The true position is very different. He worked for Aspire Housing and the only condition he notified to his employer was that he suffered with sciatica.”

Holland pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue to the tune of £47,913.

Sarah Magill, mitigating, conceded the offending passed the custody threshold but urged Judge Paul Glenn to suspend any sentence.

She said: “His right leg is deformed and causes him to walk in a disjointed manner. He accepts the claim was dishonest from the outset. It was not a complete fabrication. He has never hidden the fact he has been working.”

Judge Glenn told Holland: “You accept dishonesty in the making of the original claim in that you exaggerated your mobility care needs. This is a serious case because your dishonesty was there from day one. You persisted in dishonestly claiming for 21 years almost £48,000 which could have been spent on genuine and worthy causes. You were receiving about £2,000 a year tax free.”

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