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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Cumbrian man on benefits caught playing golf 'masks the pain'

A man caught playing golf when he claimed to be too disabled to walk very far told investigators that after 20 years suffering from a muscle wasting disease he had learned to mask pain, a court heard.

Leigh Neilly photo
Leigh Neilly

Related: Golf-playing disability fraud trial man sacks barrister - court

Leigh Neilly, 41, of Wampool Street, Silloth, who is on trial at Carlisle Crown Court accused of claiming nearly £39,000 in Disability Living Allowance that he wasn’t entitled to, said he could “walk to the end of the world” if he wanted to, even though he would be in “excruciating pain”.

Details of what Neilly, of Wampool Street, Silloth, told investigators from the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP), were given to the jury on the fourth day of his trial in which he denies benefit fraud by making false claims about his health, and a charge of failing to tell the DWP his health had improved enough to affect his claim.

The jury heard that when an investigator asked about his claim that it would take him up to ten minutes to walk 100 metres, he replied: “I can walk 100 metres and ride a bike in excruciating pain if I want to. It’s my choice.

“I can do basically anything that I want in excruciating pain. I am certainly not going to give up on life just because I have got a disease.”

When asked if he was fit to go out on his own Neilly replied: “If I feel all right to go out on a bike I go out on a bike. If I fall off the bike and kill myself that is my problem.”

The jury heard that when the investigator remarked that, at the time of the interview, Neilly did not appear to be in any discomfort, he replied: “What do you want me to do – lie about the floor screaming?”

The investigator said: “There is no outward sign that you are in pain. You just appear to be sat there.”

Neilly replied: “When you have had 20 years to deal with a disease you have had 20 years to deal with showing no pain.”

On Tuesday Neilly sacked the barrister and solicitor who had represented him on Monday, and has been conducting his own defence.

The trial continues.

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