Four months in jail for Mansfield benefits cheat

A BENEFITS cheat who was secretly filmed playing golf while claiming disability living allowance, has been jailed for four months.

A judge told ex-miner Robert Cave (50) of Cotswold Grove, Mansfield, he had exaggerated his disability to claim £12,600 over three years.

Judge Andrew Hamilton branded him a ‘liar and a cheat’.

In 2007 Cave told the Department for Work and Pensions he could not walk more than 50 metres without stopping and found it hard to lift pans of food from the cooker to the sink, Nottingham Crown Court heard. He said his elbows were crumbling.

But in August 2009 DWP investigators secretly videod him loading fencing panels into his car at home.

On 18th October that year he was filmed hitting shots on the driving range at Norwood Park golf course near Southwell. Then on the third tee he was filmed standing on one leg, bending forward to pick up his golf tee after hitting a shot.

When interviewed the following January he admitted he had a handicap of 15 and was a regular player. He used an electric buggy 90 per cent of the time but the other 10 per cent did not.

He pleaded guilty last month to failing to notify an improvement in his capabilities between April 2006 and January 2010.

In 1996 when he applied for benefit he said walking was extremely painful. He could manage only 10 yards and it took him two minutes. It took him up to 10 minutes to lever himself out of bed.

His barrister Laura Pitman said he had a hereditary disease, Nail-patella syndrome which affects the nails, knees, elbows and other parts of the body.

By the age of 18 he had had both kneecaps removed.

But the court was told he had been able to work as a miner for 10 years up to 1995.

In more recent years he had been able to manage his condition with steroid injections and physiotherapy, said Miss Pitman.

She suggested the punishment could be unpaid work for the community running a charity shop in Mansfield.

He could then help with the care of his wife, who had mental health difficulties, and their two sons who also had the genetic syndrome.

Judge Hamilton said Cave had joined the golf club in 2006 at a cost of £600, playing on average once a week on an 18-hole course that was four to five miles long. The judge added: “You don’t get a 15-handicap overnight.”

The judge said it was one of the worst cases – “some one flagrantly claiming benefit to which they are not entitled and enjoying themself playing golf to a high standard”.

Cave left the dock with the aid of his walking stick to begin his sentence.