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Disability benefits cheat jailed for six months

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A man from Cheshire who fraudulently claimed disability living allowance was jailed for six months yesterday after he pleaded guilty to a charge of false accounting at Warrington Crown Court.

David Simpson, 45, from Widnes, claimed £35,410 in disability benefits after telling officials he was "virtually invalid" for nine years.

Following an anonymous tip-off, however, covert surveillance by the Department for Work and Pensions caught him performing as an entertainer called "Wavey Davey" at children's parties across the North West of England and also as a gymnastics instructor.

Judge Thomas Teague QC said it was clear Mr Simpson's first claim before 1991 was "genuine and legitimate" but his condition had improved considerably.

"On 8 March 1991, you submitted a claim form in which you alleged that you were only able to walk a short distance and could only climb stairs with pain," he said.

"Until then, you had been a young man with an extremely promising career as an athlete.

"In 1992, the rate at which you could claim increased and you continued to receive payments until you came under investigation in 2008, a total period of some 17 years."

"You had in fact been working as a children's entertainer, something that clearly involved mobility far in excess of what you had put in your claim form, and you were working as a pre-school gym instructor.

"When you purchased a car, you received from the taxpayer a significant contribution to the cost of your vehicle by reason of the serious restrictions on your mobility.

"This was just too blatant to suspend the inevitable term of custody."

On top of the six-month jail term, Simpson, who won a silver medal in gymnastics at the "Alternative" Commonwealth Games in 1986, must also pay back £100 per month.

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