South East Wales

Benefit fraudster 'too weak to walk' climbed Kilimanjaro

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

A benefits cheat who said he could not walk more than 50 metres climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and won a triathlon.

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

At the same time, the 33-year-old competed in races, climbed Africa's highest peak, went wing-walking and skied in the Alps.

He was convicted of a fraud charge at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates' Court.

Chris Evans, prosecuting, said: "He said he can only walk between 20 and 50 metres, can't walk on uneven ground, suffers pain when walking long distances and needs to sit down every 20 minutes."

He claimed the cash between October 2014 and February 2016, but the court was shown photos of Lloyd competing in the HSBC triathlon in September 2015 - a race he won in the adult taster category.

That month, he was also pictured posing with an African guide during his 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.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Lloyd told benefits assessors he could not bend or stretch and needed walking aids

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 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 164 ft (50m).

Mr Evans said: "The case is not whether he has an injury or not, but if he exaggerated his condition to claim money."

Lloyd admitted filling in risk assessment forms to enter three triathlons without revealing he suffered ill health.

He said: "I didn't want any special treatment or assistance. I wanted to be self-sufficient and compete at the same level as everyone else."

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Despite saying he struggled to walk, Lloyd reached the peak of Kilimanjaro

James Harris, defending, said Lloyd had not been dishonest and was able to push through the pain barrier because of his Army training.

"When climbing Mount Kilimanjaro he said he pushed himself and was in agony," he told the court.

District Judge Martin Brown called Lloyd's defence "nonsense" and said he deliberately lied to get "every penny he could".

The court heard the offence took place while he was serving a 20-week suspended prison sentence for common assault.

Lloyd denied one count of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for himself, but was convicted following a trial. He will be sentenced in August.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman 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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