A fraudster who claimed he could barely leave the house and was unable to cut his own food was caught running a dog walking business while claiming benefits.
Colin Sage was overpaid £24,673.92 in Personal Independence Payment by the Department of Work and Pensions during his three-and-a-half-year con.The payment was initially correct, due to him suffering strokes and having to give up his job with Royal Mail. But when he recovered, he failed to signal that the money tap should be turned off.
Investigators then looked at his social media and found pictures of him walking dogs in the snow and up and down steep hills. Surveillance on his home proved he was well enough to be out with the pooches and would go cycling.Imagine what it cost to prove all that...
Frank O’Toole, mitigating at Chelmsford Crown Court, said Sage, of Oxley Parker Drive, Colchester, was still not in the best of health but realised he had done wrong.
“He was aware of his obligation the mention any change in circumstances,” he said. “He is thoroughly ashamed of himself.
“It is right to say he did recover to some extent and following the improvements in his health he should have said so – all he can do is apologise.”Well, no. That's not all he can do, is it?
Judge David Turner QC handed him seven months in jail suspended for two years. He must do 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £300 costs.
Sage has paid back £800 but is likely to have to pay back the full amount.
Judge Turner criticised him for failing to sell one of the two properties to pay back his debt.
He said: “Your deception was mean-spirited and shameful.
“This con went on for three-and-a-half years and was motivated not out of need, but out of greed.
“You say you are remorseful but I would believe you more if you had made serious moves to pay some of this money back.”Nice to hear not all judges fall for the sob story...