Benefits cheat was spotted at gym

Walsall | News | Published:

A benefits cheat who was spotted doing 40-minute training sessions at the gym despite saying she was wheelchair-bound has been spared an immediate jail term.

Michelle Taylor had told benefit officers she had to use a wheelchair and needed help seven days a week with simple household chores. She claimed around £21,000.

But investigators caught her shopping unaided in Bloxwich High Street and in full gym kit up to four times a week to have a workout.

The 40-year-old, who entered Walsall Magistrates Court wheezing and had to take a puff of her inhaler before she could confirm her details, admitted she had not told the authorities that her circumstances had changed after she had lost up to six stone in weight. She also admitted she had been in receipt of an undeclared income but said while it was paid into her account, it was her mother who was doing the work and taking the money.

Mr Peter Smedley, prosecuting, told magistrates she claimed disability living allowance and was awarded the highest available due to her lack of mobility and for her care needs as she was unable to cook, needed help dressing and undressing and getting to the toilet.

But he said after a tip-off, investigators looked into her case, and by using undercover surveillance, witnessed her walking 312 paces at a normal pace and strolling down the high street.

She had also signed a work sheet at the gym saying she had no problems that would prevent her from using the facilities.

Taylor, of Hilton Close, Walsall, pleaded guilty to the two charges of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain benefits between March 2010 and September 2011. She was overpaid by a total of £21,008.

She was given 16 weeks custody, suspended for 12 months, ordered to undertake 12 months of supervision, complete 15 days of a benefit fraud workbook, re-pay the DWP and pay £100 in court costs.

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