Benefits cheat claimed he could hardly walk so he could get £52,935 in hand-outs

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd

A benefits cheat claimed he could hardly walk so he could get an extra £52,935 in benefits, a court heard.

Daniel Smithson, 49, had a genuine claim because of a number of chronic health problems, but in order to get a car under the Motability scheme he claimed he could hardly walk, so he could get a higher rate and lease a vehicle in exchange for his mobility allowance, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Simon Gladwell, prosecuting on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions, said that while he claimed he was "virtually unable to walk" in fact Smithson's condition had improved and he had been working in various jobs since 2010.

Mr Gladwell said he had got a job as a deputy manager at a care home and then worked as a manager before getting a job for a Broads boat company, where he was still employed.

He said in all cases they were full-time jobs, which required him to be mobile.

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Mr Gladwell said the false claims went on for a period of seven and half years, over which time he was given £52,935 in benefits.

He said that Smithson was now paying the money back through an attachment on his earnings.

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Smithson, of Alma Terrace, Norwich, admitted failing to disclose a change in circumstances to the DWP.

Jonathan Goodman, for Smithson, said it had not started out as a fraudulent claim.

He said that he would have been entitled to some of the benefits he received as his condition was chronic and said although he had good days when he could work there were other days, when he was not fit enough.

He said that the benefits received were not in cash but through the benefit of having a car under the Motability scheme.

"He does have continuous problems."

He said that Smithson would have been entitled to some of the benefits he received, although at the lower level.

Judge Maureen Bacon imposed a six-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months and a four month curfew, under which he must remain indoors between 10pm and 6am.

He was also ordered to pay £105 in costs.

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