Benefits fiddler caught working in car repair shop
A benefits fiddler who claimed he needed constant medical care was caught working as spray painter in a car repair shop.
Peter Low, 52, suffered serious injuries in a fork lift truck accident but was able to return to work after receiving specialist training at a college in Exeter.
He carried on claiming around £10,000 a year to pay for round-the-clock care at his home in Newton Abbot, which he was no longer receiving.
He felt he was entitled to keep his disability living allowance because he had put so much effort into making himself fit for work again, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Low, of Victory Close, Newton Abbot, who is now working with disadvantaged children, admitted benefit fraud and was jailed for six months, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work and pay £1,280 costs.
Emily Pitts, prosecuting, said Low started claiming honestly in 1997 when he had a genuine disability which entitled him to the higher level of disability living allowance.
She said by 2008 he was able to work, which would not automatically have disqualified him from the benefit, but which he should have declared.
Miss Pitts said: ”His claim became dishonest because he was in fact working in a car body repair shop spraying vehicles, which is clearly a physical job.
“It indicated he was not as disabled as he said he was and by that time he had received an overpayment of £45,352.55, which he has repaid in full.”
Lee Bremridge, defending, said Low suffered a very serious industrial injury in 1994 while working as a fork lift truck driver and his initial claims were honest.
Over the next decade he had two operations and further treatment and went to St Loye’s College in Exeter for specialist rehabilitation which enabled him to work again.
He took a job at Renwicks in Newton Abbot and moved to their Exeter workshops and accepts he should have stopped claiming his disability allowance.
Mr Bremridge said at the time Low was depressed because of the break up of his 31-year marriage and a series of family bereavements.
He said: ”He buried his head in the sand in respect of the forms he was filling in.”
Judge Phillip Wassall said:”You claimed benefit dishonestly over a protracted period of time. Your ridiculous justification was that somehow you were entitled to benefits because of what you had been through.
“In view of the fact you have repaid all the money I am able to suspend the sentence.”