A boxing coach exposed as a benefits cheat when footage of him in the ring was shown on YouTube while he was claiming to be disabled has avoided going to jail.
Mark Ashman told officials that it took him 10 minutes to walk 100 yards and that he often fell or stumbled when outside, the city’s magistrates heard yesterday. He claimed he was ‘very’ disabled.
But the 52-year-old was caught taking part in a demonstration put on by Wolverhampton Boxing Club in a ring specially installed outside its Horseley Fields base as the Olympic Torch bearer ran past. The YouTube footage was seen by Department of Work and Pensions investigators.
Mrs Sukhi Rai, prosecuting, said: “Video obtained from the internet showed him coaching in a boxing ring. He was demonstrating physical capabilities that were incompatible with his alleged condition. They were far greater than his stated abilities.”
Watch the footage of Mark Ashman in the ring during a demonstration by Wolverhampton Boxing Club
Ashman illegally pocketed over £21,700 in Incapacity and Disability Living Allowance during a near three-and-a-half year long fraud.
DWP investigators discovered he had kept secret details of his recovery from a serious knee complaint allowing him to collect £9,182 Disability Living Allowance to which he was no longer entitled. He had also been running a security company called Night and Day without declaring those earnings enabling him to illegally pick up a further £12,560 incapacity benefit.
Mrs Rai said: “He said it took him 10 minutes to walk 100 yards and often had somebody with him outdoors to make sure he was safe in case his knee collapsed. The onus was on him to notify the authorities if his condition improved.”
Ashman registered as a boxing coach, helped fighters from the Caribbean island of Dominica prepare in Wolverhampton for the Olympics last year and launched his own business without telling the DWP.
Mrs Debbie Starrs, defending, said the claim had initially been genuine because he had suffered from severe osteoarthritis in the right knee as a result of an injury sustained when aged five.
The coach from Armstead Road, Pendeford, admitted two charges of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances to the DWP.
He was given an eight-week jail sentence suspended for 18 months and told to pay £180 costs.