A pensioner has pleaded guilty to falsely claiming more than £23,000 in disability benefits after he was spotted taking his dog out for three walks a day – despite saying he could not walk more than 15 metres before needing a rest.
Fraudster Norman Smart from Cannock claimed he was ‘virtually unable to walk without assistance’, but took his dog out three times a day for 30 minute walks.
The 65-year-old appeared at Cannock Magistrates Court for trial, but pleaded guilty to making false statements to obtain benefits.
Prosecuting, Samantha Frazer yesterday told the court Smart had falsely claimed a total of £23,262.50 in disability benefit between November 2004 and November 2011.
“Mr Smart has been in receipt of Disability Living Allowance since 2004,” she said. “He was claiming on the basis that he was virtually unable to walk without assistance.
“In order to claim, Mr Smart submitted forms to the Department for Work and Pensions and stated he had osteoarthritis in his hip, leg and feet and that he was only able to walk 15 metres with a walking stick before needing to rest.
“He also stated he had difficulty with some self-care needs and needed help making main meals.
“Information was received that the defendant’s physical capabilities were such that he was able to walk his dog for half an hour three times a day. Surveillance was then carried out. He was observed walking his dog to a local play area and a nature reserve. He was able to walk over woodland, uneven ground and uphill, while holding a walking aid.
“He was seen to walk in excess of 2,500 yards at a normal pace with a slight limp, but no signs of discomfort.
“Mr Smart stated his physical capabilities were a lot worse and that he suffered more pain.
“He has admitted he takes regular walks with his dog every day for half an hour or more, as he is trying to improve his physical capabilities by strengthening his legs.”
The court was also told Smart, of Lincoln Drive, has no previous convictions. His case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared by the Probation Service. Smart will be sentenced on Tuesday at Cannock Magistrates.