VIDEO: ‘Disabled’ Gorleston man was filmed playing golf

A BENEFIT fraudster, who falsely claimed nearly �16,000, was filmed playing golf and walking down the street despite stating he could not walk 25 yards without a walking stick.

An undercover Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) surveillance team filmed Chris Mowatt, of Avondale Road, Gorleston walking more than 100m unaided and striding along fairways at a local golf club despite claiming a slipped disc in his back meant he could hardly walk, Yarmouth magistrates heard on Friday.

The 47-year-old pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to failing to tell the DWP his condition had improved, meaning he was overpaid �15,888.90 in disability living allowance between August 8, 2006 and January 5, 2010.

Arthur Balls, prosecuting, said evidence came to light which cast doubt on the claims made by the single father-of-two when he first applied for the benefit.

He said Mowatt, who joined the golf club in 2003, had achieved a handicap of 21 and was playing at quite a competitive level.

He added: 'He was observed playing golf and walking along fairways without any apparent difficulty. He was observed getting in and out of a vehicle, bending and without difficulty.'

When Mowatt was asked at a DWP interview in October 2009 whether his disability had improved, he said he was better on some days than on others.

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Michael Cole, mitigating, questioned the period of overpayment, stating Mowatt was in prison for some of the time and would not have been claiming the benefit, adding it was difficult to decide at what point his condition had improved.

He said the defendant was given 200mgs of Morphine a day to numb the pain following the accident which caused the slipped disc and had to lay on his back because the drug made him drowsy.

He said the level of painkiller was reduced over a period of time, though his disability could vary in severity from day-to-day.

Mr Cole said Mowatt, who is now on incapacity benefit, also suffered a heart attack in July which means he is now on five different drugs, but if his condition improves he will try to find work.

Former forklift truck driver Mowatt is currently repaying the overpayment at a rate of �19.80 per fortnight.

He was given a two month suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work.