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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Carlisle benefits adviser convicted of false £3,000 disability claim

A woman who worked as an independent benefits adviser has been convicted of fraudulently claiming her own disability living allowance.

Kathryn Margaret Jones, 49, had denied the £3,000 benefit fraud but was found guilty after a five-hour trial by Carlisle magistrates.

Jones, of Westrigg Road, Morton, was fined £100 for failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting her entitlement of disability living allowance between June 23, 2010 and May 31, 2011.

Anthony Wilson, prosecuting for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), told the court that Jones started claiming disability living allowance in 2009 because of severe back problems and chronic osteoarthritis in both hands. She needed help with cooking and general house work and could not walk far. She used a walking stick but this made the pain in her hands worse, the court was told

Mr Wilson said a surveillance operation was carried out on June 22, 2010 and then again on July 6.

On the first occasion four members of the DWP fraud investigation team watched Ms Jones as she was interviewed at the job centre.

Video evidence viewed by the magistrates showed her walking towards a desk, sitting down and then getting back up and walking out.

She was then videoed walking through the city centre, going into a shop and back to her car. On the second occasion similar video evidence was shown of her walking unaided.

During an interview in the DWP office Jones denied that her health circumstances had changed.

The court was told that Jones used to work as an independent benefits advisor. A investigator for the DWP said that because of this Ms Jones would have had the experience to know exactly what information was needed when applying for benefits.

Mr Wilson said details of her disability on the claim form did not match what was seen on the video evidence as no sign of discomfort or pain was shown while she was walking around the city centre.

Geoff Clapp, defending, told the court that Ms Jones did not agree that her condition had improved. A consultant and her own GP had written to the DWP stating it would not get better.

He said Jones had good and bad days. The day before the surveillance she rested at home because she knew she was going into town for the interview.

Jones told the court that she did not look disabled and tried to put on a “brave face ”.

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