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27 Aug 2019

Benefits fraudster falsely claimed £10k while working as crime adviser based at police HQ

A fraudster has been spared jail - despite falsely claiming £10,000 worth of disability benefits while working at Staffordshire Police HQ! (h/t Dave)

Victoria Antill claimed allowances "designed for the most vulnerable" after telling authorities she suffered from a catalogue of illnesses, including strokes, PTSD, Bell's palsy, anxiety and depression, Stafford Crown Court heard.

The 36-year-old said she could not walk without assistance, could not cook due to severe physical problems, was unable to wash or bathe without help, and could not go to the toilet by herself.

But this did not stop her working 35 hours a week for the chamber of commerce as a full-time civilian business crime helpline advisor while based at Staffordshire Police HQ in Weston Road, Stafford.

CCTV showed Antill entering and leaving the office for Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry without difficulty and carrying three bags.

She had "no difficulty" with mobility, was able to climb two flights of stairs, and even entered running events.

The court was told she had sent letters to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) posing as her GP in support of her claim for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Antill pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly failing to notify authorities after starting work in August 2017 while claiming Disability Living Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Housing Benefits.

She also admitted a further charge of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a PIP.

She was handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years, told to complete 30 days of a rehabilitation programme, and ordered to continue to pay back £50 a month for three years.

At her sentencing hearing, Recorder Martin Wasik told Antill: "This is a serious matter in a number of respects - as pointed out by the prosecution, there are blatant aspects here of inconsistency in your working life and the statements that you were making to the benefit authorities.

"I am very concerned about a number of aspects - particularly the suggestion that letters reporting to have come from the GP may have been forged. There is significant dishonesty here."

Sparing Antill time in prison immediately, the judge continued: "I am going to suspend your sentence in this case so that repayments can continue. Prison would have serious adverse effects on you, very serious adverse effects on your family, and no further money can be repaid."

Opening the case against Antill, prosecutor Omar Majid said: "There is no dispute that the defendant had the ailments... but the effect on her was demonstrably and grossly overstated. She had initially said that she could only manage (to walk) half a metre and could not walk without someone physically supporting her."

Mr Majid said somebody from the DWP had visited Antill in December 2017 after she made an application for a PIP two months earlier.

He said: "She explained to the individual who visited that she had a carer who attended six hours a day, seven days a week. At the conclusion of that appointment, Ms Antill went to work. The Crown say that that was brazen dishonesty.

"It became clear that the defendant had grossly exaggerated her care needs."

He continued: "She had not told the adviser that she had started full-time work at the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Had she told the truth, she would not have been entitled to the PIP at all.

"It was found that, somewhat ironically, she was working as a business crime helpline adviser.

"There had been observations that she had been walking up two flights of stairs without needing any assistance. She never showed or demonstrated any difficulty with her mobility."

Mr Majid said Antill had also called the DWP to say there had been no change of circumstances two days after she started work.

Antill's defence barrister, Saleema Mahmood, said she had already returned around £2,000 to the DWP and was paying £50 back a week.

Source with pictures

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