A £20,000 benefit cheat who claimed he could only walk a few metres but was captured on film walking his dog, lifting a wheelbarrow into a car and moving wheelie bins, has had his sentence reduced on appeal.
Alan Sheard from Underhill, Wolverhampton, was jailed for eight weeks at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.
But the 59-year-old conman challenged his jail time at the city’s crown court yesterday, claiming he shouldn’t have been given that length of sentence because his claims weren’t fraudulent from the outset.
Sheard, of Wildtree Avenue, said his back pain was so acute he claimed the highest level of disability benefit, netting him £19,985.10 in Disability Living Allowance between May 2009 and June 2012. He had started legitimately claiming disability benefits in 2001, but one of his daughters filled out a form in 2007 entitling him to a higher level of payment.
Mr Justin Jarmola prosecuting, told Wolverhampton Crown Court, that Sheard was investigated following numerous tip-offs.
He said: “The defendant suffers from sciatica, pancreatitis and diabetes. He claimed he was unable to walk and needed attention night and day. He said he could only walk 10 metres.
“There were numerous anonymous calls to the authorities and as is the case these days this led to him being monitored on social media. “He was interviewed three times but maintained his innocence.” The tip-offs led to Sheard being investigated during which he was filmed walking his dog over long distances for 40 and 45 minutes.
He was also witnessed lifting a 6ft by 7ft sheet of metal mesh fencing and a wheelbarrow into his car, and from January 2008 onwards he was seen regularly entered golf competitions.
Mr Oliver Woolhouse, representing Sheard, told the court: “If the sentence in the lower court was to send a message to the public and to Mr Sheard, then that message has been heard loud and clear.”
Recorder Mr David Herbert QC reduced Sheard’s sentence by one week.
He is due to be released this week.