South East Wales

Golf champ Alan Bannister jailed for £26,000 benefit fraud

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Media captionThe video that exposed Alan Bannister as he played golf

A champion golfer who claimed £26,000 in benefits saying he was too ill to walk but played the sport regularly has been jailed for six months.

Alan Bannister, 56, of Barry, claimed a higher rate of disability living allowance after exaggerating the severity of his arthritis.

He claimed to be in constant pain, struggled to walk or lift a saucepan, but played off a handicap of seven.

Secret footage showed him playing 18 holes in four hours.

Cardiff Crown Court heard he even had a taxpayer-funded mobility car.

But the jury was told he was was in fact the "club champion" at his local golf course and had won a number of tournaments.

'Blatant fraud'

In sentencing, Recorder David Miller told Bannister: "It was a blatant fraud.

"You grossly and dishonestly distorted your condition and your ability to walk. You said you could only walk 50 metres but you were an active member of your golf club with a handicap of seven."

He went on: "You were filmed effortlessly removing your golf trolley and clubs from your car and walking at a decent pace at the golf course.

"At time of national austerity, claiming benefits you are not entitled to is very serious. This benefit is for people virtually unable to walk."

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Alan Bannister insisted he had not claimed for anything he was not entitled to

During his trial last month, the jury was told Bannister needed help making a meal or getting dressed.

But an anonymous tipster called the Department of Work and Pensions and told them Bannister had played in five-day-long competitions.

He was filmed in 2012 driving in his mobility car to St Andrews Major golf club, near Barry, and completing the 5,400 yard course in just four and a half hours.

Covert officers filmed him walking to the first tee with his clubs on a trolley and teeing off before walking 400 yards down the fairway without a problem.

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