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A disability benefit claimant caught dancing and jumping over a wall has been given a suspended sentence (11 June 2013)

Date: 11/06/2013
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, A disability benefit claimant caught dancing and jumping over a wall has been given a suspended sentence

A benefit cheat who claimed that it took four minutes for him to walk ten yards with the aid of two walking sticks was caught jiving at dance classes and he may lose his home to pay for his ill gotten gains through benefit fraud.
Leonard Priestley, 58, was also filmed carrying large items and jumping over a wall by a Department of Work and Pensions surveillance team.
Priestley, of Rayleigh Street, East Bowling, Bradford, pleaded guilty last March to dishonestly pocketing £14,025 of disability living allowance over four years. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order with supervision.
He was brought back to the Bradford Crown Court for a Proceeds of Crime hearing. Prosecutor Robert Stephenson said the proceeds of crime was agreed between the parties.
Mr Stephenson said the total criminal benefit was £15,605 and the available amount was £11,000.
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC gave Priestley six months to pay, with eight months imprisonment in default.
The court was told that Priestley had already paid £910 but he will have to sell his home to meet the debt as he has no other assets.
Judge Durham Hall told him that he must pay or the authorities would be after him and he might end up in the prison for eight months and he still be owing the money.
Priestley’s original claim for the benefit had been genuine but his condition greatly improved but he had failed to notify the authorities of the change in circumstance.
As well as having very limited mobility, he had also said he needed help washing, dressing and cooking meals when he first made the claim.
But benefit investigators discovered that he had attended dance classes, lasting an hour and a half and with jives, kicks and turns, once a week for four years.
The benefit fraud team had put Priestley under surveillance between March and September 2011.
He was filmed walking round carrying large objects and jumping over a wall.
Priestley told investigators his condition had improved. He could walk for a bit longer and “did a bit of dancing now and then”.
The fraudulent claim spanned a period from November 2007 to November 2011.

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