South East Wales

Triathlete benefits cheat Mark Lloyd is jailed

Mark Lloyd arriving for sentencing Image copyright PA
Image caption Lloyd told benefits assessors he could not bend or stretch and needed walking aids

A benefits cheat who won a triathlon and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro while claiming he could not walk more than 50 metres has been jailed for 20 weeks.

Mark Lloyd, of Ynysybwl, Rhondda Cynon Taff, received £6,551.80 in Personal Independence Payments, saying a slipped disc in his back left him in agony.

At the same time, he took part in the World Powerboat Championships.

He was convicted of fraud at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates' Court in July but sentenced on Thursday.

Lloyd claimed the cash between October 2014 and February 2016, but magistrates at his trial were shown photos of him competing in the HSBC triathlon in September 2015 - a race he won in the adult taster category.

That month, he also took part in a five-day trek to the peak of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, which involved walking between eight and 12 hours a day.

He also took part in the World Powerboat Championships in Malta and went skiing in the Alps.

Despite this, the court heard he claimed he needed assistance to use the lavatory, could not stand in the kitchen and took an hour to prepare a meal.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Magistrates heard Lloyd was called "Action Man Mark" because of his love of physical activity

District Judge Martin Brown said Lloyd, a former paratrooper, "exaggerated grossly" his condition, while taking part in "a number of gruelling events".

"You were in abuse of your position having served well in the Parachute Regiment," he said.

"What you did attracted attention and you got plaudits."

He called Lloyd's claims "fanciful", saying he had "no basis" for claiming benefits.

Lloyd was medically discharged from the Army in 2011 after suffering an injury to his lower back while serving in Afghanistan.

In 2014, he applied for the Personal Independence Payment - up to £141 a week for those suffering long-term ill health to help cover the costs of their care.

The following year, he applied for more money, saying his condition had worsened and he would be bedridden for a day if he walked more than 164ft (50m).

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Lloyd was also in breach of a road rage incident

Defence solicitor James Harris said Lloyd suffers from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his service, which was undiagnosed at the time of the offences and may have impacted on his behaviour.

The defendant works in online advertising, a form of Bitcoin mining, and said he had the equivalent of US$5,000 he could use to pay a fine.

But the judge said he had "blatantly lied throughout" and sentenced him to 20 weeks in prison, of which he will serve half.

The offence put him in breach of a suspended sentence relating to a road rage incident in May 2015, the judge added. He imposed eight weeks of this, which will be served concurrently.

Lloyd was also ordered to pay £620 costs and £115 victim surcharge.

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