Disability benefit cheat caught walking and shopping by undercover investigators
A welfare cheat who illegally claimed around £8,000 in care and disability benefits was caught by undercover investigators dog-walking and shopping.
Sheffield Crown Court heard on January 12 how Charlotte Gunn, aged 49, of Bowdon Avenue, Barlborough, near Chesterfield, admitted illegally claiming Personal Independent Payment benefit from the Department for Work and Pensions between January, 2018, and January, 2019.
Andrew Smith, prosecuting, said there had been a time when Gunn had genuinely qualified for PIP and despite being charged with committing fraud between August, 2017, and January, 2019, the CPS accepts Gunn’s guilty plea on the basis her fraudlent claim began from January, 2018.
Mr Smith acknowledged she had therefore fraudulently claimed around £8,000 in illegal benefits.
He added Gunn had legitimately begun claiming PIP from 2014 with a “care and mobility component” and it was later reconsidered with an “enhanced daily living componnent”.
Mr Smith said: “She was under a duty to notify a change of circumstances to the DWP. She said she needed significant help to prepare and cook simple meals, needing help to eat and drink and to wash and bathe and to assist with toilet needs.”
He added Gunn claimed she had mobility issues and that she could only walk 20 to 50 metres and needed assistance on uneven ground.
Mr Smith said: “She was followed by undercover surveillance on a number of occasions and appeared to walk normally without aids and was walking in excess of 50 metres and was not in discomfort and did not use walking aids or assistance.”
He added she was observed dog-walking and shopping and bending down and reaching up for goods.
Gunn claimed she had good days and bad days but there had been some improvement in her health since she had first been granted PIP.
Errol Ballentyne, defending, said Gunn was focusing on the medical conditions she suffered before her condition improved with treatment but she should then have informed the DWP.
Recorder Felicity Davies, who recognised Gunn is paying back an owed amount to the DWP, sentenced her to a 12 month community order with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.