Saturday 23 November 2019

Man convicted of fraud after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and winning triathlon while claiming disability benefits

Mount Kilimanjaro Photo: Deposit
Mount Kilimanjaro Photo: Deposit

Rod Minchin

A man who claimed thousands of pounds in disability benefits despite climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, winning a triathlon and competing at the Phoenix Winter Games has been convicted of fraud, prosecutors said.

Mark Lloyd, 33, claimed £6,551.80 (€7,381) in Personal Independence Payments (PIP) from October 2014 to February 2016 due to what he said were severe restrictions to his mobility and ability to care for himself after suffering a back injury and PTSD in the army.

Lloyd, from Pontypridd, South Wales, had denied one count of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for himself but was convicted following a trial at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates' Court yesterday.

The court heard how Lloyd told benefits assessors that he could not bend or stretch, needed walking aids and suffered pain when walking short distances.

He was found to have overstated these needs and during the 18-month period of claiming benefits, he had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro over five days and walked for between eight and 12 hours a day.

Lloyd also took part in the World Powerboat Championships in Malta and competed in a triathlon.

During the period, in July 2016, Lloyd also completed a further claim form in which he stated that his mobility and care needs had increased.

Laura Walters, a prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service's specialist fraud division, said: "Mark Lloyd flouted the system to claim thousands of pounds of disability benefits, all the while taking part in tough physical challenges.

"Lloyd vastly overstated his care needs in order to claim the cash but he could not hide from the overwhelming evidence put forward by the prosecution, including photos of his participation in a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro and his participation in a triathlon."

Lloyd will be sentenced on August 3 at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates' Court.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "Only a small minority of people try to cheat the benefits system, but cases like this show how we are rooting out those who are stealing taxpayers' money and diverting it away from the people who really need it."

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