Liverpool

Liverpool family jailed for £200,000 benefit fraud

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Media captionSamuel Bennett was filmed as he prepared to go on holiday

A woman who claimed she was too ill to walk, yet was filmed surfing in Australia and swimming with dolphins, has been jailed for benefit fraud.

Danielle Bennett, 30, from Liverpool, and her parents Samuel and Patricia Bennett, both 64, admitted claiming more than £200,000.

They were jailed for 30 months, nine months and 27 months respectively.

They had claimed they were too ill to walk and could not make their own food but video footage suggested otherwise.

'Worst benefit fraud'

It showed them taking exotic holidays and displaying no signs of physical disability.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said Mr and Mrs Bennett, of Barker Way, had claimed benefits between 2002 and 2012.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Patricia Bennett falsely claimed £70,000, while her husband claimed £41,000. Danielle Bennett, from Woodvale Road, falsely claimed £101,000.

The family pleaded guilty to benefit fraud at a previous hearing.

Sentencing, Judge Dennis Watson QC said in 30 years in criminal court it was the worst case of benefit fraud he had seen.

'Callous lies'

He said the family used the money obtained to fund a "lavish lifestyle", which included nine holidays between 2003 and 2012.

He said the family "lied blatantly and repeatedly" to obtain significant amounts from the DWP, with Patricia Bennett "playing the leading role in the fraud".

Steve Sneade of the DWP said after sentencing: "It is not just the sum of the money involved - although £212,000 is a lot of money that is stolen from the taxpayer, but it was also the nature of the case.

"It was callous lies told to get money meant for the most vulnerable in our society."

He added: "They enjoyed a lavish lifestyle with many holidays abroad to exotic places like Thailand, New York and Las Vegas, all at the expense of the taxpayer."

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