West Lindsey benefits cheat was caught out after being filmed at Crufts

A West Lindsey woman who defrauded the benefits system out of more than £16,000 was caught out after an investigation led to the discovery of footage of her at Crufts.

Dawn Gregory was granted an enhanced rate of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) after it was ruled that she was eligible for the benefit.

Lincoln Crown Court

Lincoln Crown Court

Lincoln Crown Court was told Gregory was granted the benefit on the basis that she was unable to walk more than 20 metres without assistance and was unable to dress and wash herself properly.

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Although she was initially eligible for PIP her condition improved but she failed to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Joey Kwong, prosecuting, said: "She was in receipt of PIP which was granted in relation to a medical condition. She had suffered a brain hernia. That caused here to suffer headaches, neck and shoulder pain, weakness to her left side and mini-strokes.

"She said she was unable to stretch or bend down or walk more than 20 yards without assistance. She said she was unable to go up and down stairs and avoided public places. She said she constantly needed urgent access to the bathroom and she was unable to dress and wash herself properly because every time she bends it causes her pain which causes here to have to sit down to recover.

"An investigation showed that during the period she was using a car and she was regularly attending show dog events. There is footage that shows her showing off her dog. She can walk and trot briskly.

"She was walking around unaided. She was able to bend down and she was able to walk distances."

In total she received £16,719 she was not entitled to.

Gregory, 56, of Park Farm Road, Kettlethorpe, admitted a charge of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting her benefit.

She was given an eight-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, with a night-time curfew for three months.

Recorder William Harbage QC ordered the confiscation of £16,719 of her assets which will be paid to the DWP as compensation.

The Recorder told Gregory: "On the forms you wrote that you were in fear of being noticed and you didn't go out. You said you couldn't walk without help and could not walk more than 20 metres. You said you fall all the time and you can't get up and down stairs.

"When the DWP investigated they were able to see footage of you walking briskly and unaided at Crufts in 2016 and 2018 going for considerable distances, even jogging or running around the parade ring, bending and sitting and stretching without help.

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"It should have been obvious to you that you should have been in touch with the DWP to tell them your condition had improved."

Mark Watson, in mitigation, said Gregory continues to suffer from various illnesses and is not clear of the symptoms of her conditions.

He told the court that Gregory plans to borrow money from her sister to recompense the DWP and will repay her sister from the proceeds of selling her house.

"The money will be paid back," he said.

A spokesman for the DWP said: "Benefit fraud is a crime that diverts money from those who really need it. In addition to any sentence imposed by the court, people must pay back all the money they falsely obtained.

“We have zero tolerance of anyone fraudulently claiming benefits and will take swift action to investigate, supporting our partners and prosecutors to bring them to justice."