Claire Thomas received a whopping £72,000 ($95,173) in disability benefits because she claimed she couldn't get work on account of her asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. The 46-year-old said she had suffered from asthma for six years but it became 'brittle' over a 12-month period, which was so bad that she said she could barely walk outside her house.
The woman claimed benefits between 2007 and 2013, but has since been found to be competing in karate competitions and doing quite well for herself.
DWP fraud investigator Judith Merryman told Gloucester Crown Court: "She said she had to have someone with her when she is out in public and stated, 'It's always lurking, waiting to strike when it wants, taking the air that I breathe.'"
However, fraud investigators were confused when they saw Ms Thomas not only walking around with no discomfort whatsoever, but also training around three or four times a week for karate, and even winning or coming second in several competitions.
She's since been hit with seven charges of benefit fraud, one of which alludes to her failing to tell authorities about her improvement in her health between 2012 and 2013.
Prosecutor Tom Hills also told the court: "In 2013 she won a bronze and a gold regional medal in karate. News filtered through to the fraud investigators of the Department of Work and Pensions and between 8th and 17th May surveillance was carried out.
"There was then a regional qualifier taking place in Birmingham and she was filmed taking part, winning a medal, and then kissing her husband."
Ms Thomas first started receiving benefits in 2005 for Income Support because she said she was a single mother with a dependent child. Three years later, that was swapped over to an employment support allowance because she provided medical certificates confirming her various health issues.
The Department for Work and Pensions alleges the accused was rigging the system, in that despite claiming she was raising a child by herself, she was actually keeping a 'common household' with her husband.
Mrs Merryman said: "We carried on paying on the basis she was a single parent with a dependent child. If she was living with a partner she would not be entitled to income support."
Ms Thomas also received DLA Mobility, amounting to £4,256 ($5,625), which was to help her get a car to allow her to move around.
The trial continues.
Sources: Gloucestershire Live
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