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8 January 2013, 20:09
A Bishop Auckland benefits cheat who claimed he could barely walk has been jailed after he was caught working as a leisure centre fitness instructor.
58 year old Alan Lawson pocketed over £80,000 during an eight year period after he had originally suffered a back injury that meant he could only walk with a stick.
But when his pain started to diminish he failed to notify the authorities of his improvement.
He was convicted of two counts of failing to notify a change in circumstances and one of making a false statement to obtain benefit.
Court officials at Durham Crown Court confirmed Lawson was sentenced to eight months in prison with a proceeds of crime hearing set for later on in the year.
A spokesperson for Durham County Council said last night:
"Alan Lawson no longer works for Durham County Council.
The council takes benefit fraud very seriously and we investigate and assist with any investigations where any member of staff is suspected of falsely claiming benefits.''
John Carter, DWP Fraud Investigation Manager for the North East said:
"No one should think they can get away with benefit theft.
Our investigators track down those guilty of stealing money they are not entitled to, bringing them before the courts and making them face the consequences of their action.
In addition to any sentence imposed by the court, the Department always seeks to recover the money falsely obtained, to ensure that cheats do not benefit from their criminal activities.''