A benefits cheat who conned thousands of pounds from the public purse after claiming he could hardly walk scored an own goal – when he was found to be running a football team.
Ian Drinnan, who illegally claimed more than £3,500 in disability benefits, was recorded erecting and dismantling goals posts and nets by investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions.
He also helped put up spectator barriers and carried equipment around.
Drinnan, 58, of Loxham Gardens, South Shore, pleaded guilty of fraud by failing to tell the DWP his physical ability had improved.
Pam Smith, prosecuting, told Blackpool Magistrates’ Court Drinnan claimed Disability Living Allowance, saying he could only walk for two or three minutes at a slow pace.
He also said he needed to use crutches because of the pain in his legs, could not bend and frequently fell.
He told the DWP he did not have any hobbies and was in pain six days a week
The prosecutor added: “He told the DWP he did not have any hobbies and was in pain six days a week.
“But investigators found he was running a football club. He was watched and was on his feet for three or four hours at a time. He was not using crutches.”
The court was told Drinnan even supervised training sessions for hours on end as well as attending all the home and away matches played by Blackpool Rangers FC.
Other club officials said they had never seen Drinnan with a walking aid.
He was sentenced to do 80 hours unpaid work for the community and ordered to pay £85 costs and £60 victim surcharge by District Judge Huw Edwards sitting at Blackpool Magistrates Court.
Drinnan’s lawyer John McLaren told the court his client formerly worked as a chef but then got arthritis.
He added: “He started managing the club as a way of getting back on his feet instead of staring at four walls.”
But a DWP spokesman said: “Benefit payments should go to those who really need them.
“We know it’s a small minority of people who commit benefit fraud, but deliberately not informing us of a change in your condition that may affect your claim is a crime.
“Don’t wait for our fraud investigators to find you – tell us of a change now. If you suspect someone of fraudulently claiming benefits, then call our National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440.”
Steve Simms, Blackpool Rangers chairman, confirmed Drinnan had since left the club.
Drinnan was unavailable for comment.