A married couple from Blackpool, who used to work for the Department of Work and Pensions, have been found guilty of massive benefit fraud.
Blackpool Magistrate's court heard how Stephen Paul Derbyshire and wife Suzanne Patricia knew exactly how to fiddle the benefits system, as they had both worked for the Department of Work and Pensions.
The 52 year old husband and his 59-year-old wife of Draycot Avenue, Blackpool, admitted staging a £25,000 fraud when they appeared in court.
They pleaded guilty to failing to inform the DWP of changes in their health circumstances.
Prosecutor Sarah Perkins told the hearing: ”This case is aggravated by the fact that both worked for the DWP assessing claims.”
“They would have been well aware of the impact of what they did.”
Stephen Derbyshire made a claim for Disabled Living Allowance stating he could only walk 10 metres in three to five minutes.
He said he was severely restricted in his movement and would stumble and fall because his knees gave way, and he could not get over obstacles such as kerbs.
However the DWP was tipped off that their former member of staff was living a double life.
He also worked for a bottled gas company.
He was placed under surveillance ten times by investigators, who witnessed him walking 850 yards without a problem.
They saw him carrying 19 kilogram gas bottles to customers - one in each hand - and he would swing bottles through the air to get them on the back of a lorry he drove.
When confronted with evidence about his real physical work he said he took a lot of time off sick but checks with his employer revealed this was not true.
His wife claimed Personal Independence Payments following a road accident, claiming she needed help with her daily living.
However she also got herself a job as a carer where she would help the woman she looked after with tasks such as shopping.
Mrs Derbyshire was also put under surveillance.
When she was interviewed she was asked whether, as a former DWP employee, she would have awarded herself enhanced levels of benefit.
She replied: ”Probably not.”
Michael Woosnam, defending both Derbyshires, said: ”They both worked for the DWP assisting people with claims but left on sickness grounds. Their claims were legitimate at first but they accept their fitness had improved.”
“Both decided to get work to get out of the house and accept they should have told the department.”
He said Mr Derbyshire was repaying £13,550 at £200 a month which will take five years to accomplish.
His wife is repaying £11,548 at £135 per month.
Sentencing the couple to 12 weeks jail (suspended for a year), chairman of the bench Brian Horrocks said:” You live together and both knew what was going on and youth both had a five year period in which to tell the DWP - but you didn’t until confronted with surveillance film.”
Mr Derbyshire must do 120 hours unpaid work and his wife 80 hours unpaid work.
They must pay £390 costs between them.