A blundering boxing coach was caught out as a benefits cheat when he was spotted showing off his skills as part of an Olympic Torch display in Wolverhampton, a court was told today.
Mark Ashman, with the pads, is caught on film outside Wolverhampton Boxing Club’s gym
Mark Ashman had told officials from the Department of Work and Pensions that it took him 10 minutes to walk 100 yards and that he often fell or stumbled when outside and had ‘severe’ mobility problems. He also claimed he was ‘very’ disabled.
However the 52-year-old was caught after taking part in a demonstration put on by Wolverhampton Boxing Club, which was on the torch bearer’s route in a ring specially installed outside its Horseley Fields base. The display was broadcast on Youtube where it was seen by Department of Work investigators.
Wolverhampton Magistrates Court was told today that Ashman had illegally pocketed over £21,700 in Incapacity and Disability Living Allowance during a near three and a half year long scam.
An inquiry 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.
Prosecutor Miss Suki Rai explained: “His capabilities were incompatible with his claim. He was capable of activities such as coaching at a local boxing club. Video evidence was obtained showing him in a boxing ring.”
She said: “He claimed to find it difficult to walk without a stick and to have balance problems meaning he often fell or stumbled outside. 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 managed to registered as a boxing coach, helped fighters from the Caribbean island of Dominica prepare in Wolverhampton for last year’s Olympics and launched his own business without telling the Department of Work and Pensions
The coach from Armstead Road, Pendeford, today admitted two charges of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances to the Department of Work and Pensions. The first involved continuing to claim Disability Living Allowance from March 1, 2009 to August 12 last year by not revealing his capabilities had improved.
The other covered his entitlement to Incapacity benefit because he illegally pocketed between October 2009 to January last year by failing to tell the authorities he had a job.
Mrs Debbie Starrs, defending, said Ashman had suffered from sever osteoarthritis in the right knee as a result of an injury sustained when aged five. She added: “It was a legitimate claim from the outset. He accepts that he was entirely in the wrong and should have notified the authorities of the improvement sooner.”
Magistrates chairman Mrs Beryl Farrow warned Ashman he faced a suspended prison sentence. The case was adjourned until September 5 for reports to be prepared. Ashman was granted unconditional bail.