Paralysed benefit cheat caught out playing rugby

June 4, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A man who fraudulently claimed over £7,000 in disability benefits by saying he suffered from a form of paralysis was caught out after he was filmed playing RUGBY.

Shean Saunders, 34, claimed he suffered from spastic paralysis which disables part of the nervous system that controls the movement of muscles and tendons.

But following an anonymous tip off council investigators discovered he was playing for Crewkerne Rugby Club and worked as a cleaner.

Undercover fraud investigators filmed two matches where Saunders played as a hooker and full back, took part in scrums and leapt into crunching tackles.

He pleaded guilty to claiming benefits while failing to declare that his care and mobility needs had improved and that he was working part-time.

Saunders, from Yeovil, Somerset, was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 100 hours’ unpaid work at South Somerset Magistrates’ Court.

Will Palmer, prosecuting, said: ”In August 2007 information was received by the Department of Work and Pensions that Saunders had started playing rugby for Crewkerne Rugby Club.

”It was also discovered he had started working for a local firm as a cleaner receiving £142.20 per fortnight.

”Saunders was playing for the Crewkerne team in the positions of hooker and full-back.

”He was interviewed by investigators and denied working for the cleaning company but when shown photographs and video footage of the rugby games he declined to comment.”

Saunders began claiming income support in March 2001 and Disability Living Allowance in October 2003 after he fell ill with spastic paralysis.

However, his condition improved and in 2007 he began playing rugby for his local club and found work as a part-time cleaner while still claiming benefits.

Council investigators carried out surveillance on Saunders in September and October 2008 when they filmed him taking part in two rugby matches.

In total he illegally claimed £7.448.80 in benefits, which will now be recouped by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Helena Suffield, defending, said: ”My client finds it very difficult to deal with paperwork and life in general now he is not with his ex-wife and he has become a bit lost in the world of officialdom and bureaucracy.”

Following the hearing John Martin, senior investigator for the DWP, said: ”We are determined to ensure people do tell us their true circumstances.”

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