Lying mum claimed £10k in unemployment benefits – despite having job as crime adviser
Written by The Newsroom on August 23, 2019
A mum pocketed more than £10,000 in benefits after claiming she was too ill to work – despite having a full-time job as a crime adviser.
Victoria Antill, 36, said she was housebound and unable to work and even forged letters from her doctor.
She claimed £10,830 in unemployment benefits – but was in fact working for Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce as a business crime adviser.
Antill, of Oak Road, Brewood, near Cannock, pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions of a change in her circumstances, and a further charge of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain payment.
(Image: DWP / SWNS)
Stafford Crown Court heard how Antill was a former soldier who had served two tours of Iraq , following which she had developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
She also suffered from a number of other medical issues, which led her to legitimately start to receive benefits in 2013.
But she failed to let the authorities know when her health improved and she was able to start working for the Chambers of Commerce in 2017, which meant she continued to receive Disability Living Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and housing benefit on top of her wages.
The mother-of-one also lodged a dishonest claim for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in 2017 and was awarded the highest rate of payment.
Prosecuting, Omar Majid, said her PIP self-assessment form listed numerous medical complaints, including PTSD, Bell’s palsy, strokes, neurological disorder, ischemic events, and anxiety and depression.
He said: “The defendant claimed she could not lift or stand and could not weight bear. She said she was unable to wash or bathe without help and required a commode.
“She needed help from two carers, needed help with communication and would often get mixed up or confused. She stated she was housebound and only went out rarely for hospital appointments. Her application was supported by two signed letters from her GP, but it was later found the letters were not genuine.
“The defendant had a face-to-face consultation at her home with a disability adviser to assess her claim. At the conclusion of that appointment she went to work. The Crown say that was brazen dishonesty.”
The court heard Antill told the DWP her circumstances had not changed during a phone call two days after she started work. Meanwhile she told her employer she had previously suffered from PTSD and Bell’s palsy but needed no further treatment.
Mr Majid said: “Somewhat ironically, she was working as a business crime helpline adviser 35 hours a week, based at Staffordshire Police HQ.
“Statements were taken from colleagues who said she was a ‘normal person’ who never demonstrated any difficulty with mobility or care needs. Her manager confirmed her attendance was 100 per cent and she was dealing with a large workload.
“CCTV footage showed her parking and walking into work wearing high heels with no apparent difficulties.”
But she was spared jail and the judge, Recorder Wasik, suspended Antill’s 12-month prison sentence for two years, due to her previous good character and the effect a prison sentence would have on her family. He ordered she must must complete a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement and repay £50 a month to the authorities for the next three years.
ollowing the sentence a DWP spokesman said: “Benefit fraud is a crime that diverts money from those who really need it, in this case through a deliberate and sustained deception. 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 – as we did in this case.”
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