Manchester

Disability benefit cheat filmed jazz dancing sentenced

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTerence Read was caught out by a Department of Work and Pensions surveillance operation

A jazz dancer who fraudulently claimed nearly £20,000 in disability benefits has been given a community order.

Terence Read, of Manchester, said he was crippled by arthritis and barely able to walk, but was filmed teaching dancing at a swing music night.

At an earlier hearing, he admitted failing to promptly notify authorities of a change in circumstances.

A judge at Manchester Crown Court said it was not in the public interest to send the 61-year-old to prison.

Anonymous tip-off

Judge Martin Rudland gave Read a 12-month community sentence and ordered him to complete 120 hours of unpaid work.

Read, of Northwold Drive, Blackley, claimed benefits legitimately for 10 years from March 1995, the court heard.

He suffered arthritis from the age of 25 and was virtually housebound by the early 1990s.

However, a hip replacement operation provided "instant relief" and he was able to take an interest in his new hobby.

But he failed to tell the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and continued to claim Disability Living Allowance between June 2005 and December 2008, amounting to £19,915.

Officials received an anonymous tip-off and filmed him at Manchester's Printworks complex.

The video showed Read leading a group of students through their steps in a range of styles from Lindy Hop to Charleston. He was also seen carrying heavy equipment.

Read ran classes across Greater Manchester from 2005 onwards, the court heard.

David James, defending, said: "The interest in this case has been quite a significant punishment. It is difficult to walk and hold his head high now."

Judge Rudland, sentencing, said: "You learned to live frugally and contentedly, going out rarely, until the dancing came into your life, which seemed to transform your joie de vivre.

"There is absolutely no suggestion you are a shirker who has avoided work.

'Good work'

"I suspect over time the claim being made went to the back of your mind and it was something you took for granted.

"Your case was genuine at the start and then drifted into dishonesty.

"It is not in the public interest that you should be deprived of your liberty."

He said Read was doing "good work" by taking swing music into care homes.

Read has paid back £3,000 of the money owed and a plan is in place to settle the remainder.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites