A DEPARTMENT for Work and Pensions adviser who lied his way to a £4,000 Motability car now has a criminal record.
Richard Marsden, who has drop foot and nerve damage after a road smash in 1993, “grossly exaggerated” the severity of his injury when he applied for disability living allowance in 2009, claiming he could barely walk. He was granted the highest rate of the mobility part of the benefit and got the Ford Focus, which he did not need to tax and insure, a court was earlier told.
Burnley Crown Court heard how Marsden told the DWP he used a walking stick, suffered intense pain with each step and was housebound on bad days. But, between July and September, 2010, a fraud investigator repeatedly secretly filmed him out shopping in town, walking up to 300m, carrying bags, trays of food and, on one occasion a large box and coming down three fights of steps - 37 in all - alone, unaided, at normal speed and not showing any signs of discomfort.
Marsden went on trial accused of fraud and on Friday lost his good character when a jury convicted him of dishonestly making a false representation and furnishing false information, after two hours of deliberations.
The defendant (41), of Nora Street, Barrowford, had denied the allegations and claimed the surveillance footage caught him on good days.
The hearing was told Marsden, who worked at the time at Burnley Pensions Centre, Simonstone, still protested his innocence, was shocked and upset by the verdict, but accepted he would be punished. He was given a 12-month conditional discharge.
Marsden has since been fired from the DWP, is now on £102 a week benefits and was described as living a lonely existence, almost destitute and in danger of losing his home. The car has already been taken from him and he was said to have lost many of his friends as a result of his offending.
The defendant had told the court he believed he had answered the DWP’s questions for his claim honestly. When asked about the video footage, he had told the court: “We all have good days. It was still extremely painful to walk, but I didn’t want people to know I was disabled.”
Sentencing, Judge Ian Leeming told the defendant the offences were serious. He said, however, immediate custody was not appropriate and although he (the judge) had been thinking of a community order, Marsden could not do unpaid work, supervision was not necessary and a curfew was not appropriate. The defendant had no money for a fine.
The judge said Marsden undoubtedly suffered a significant disability which affected his mobility but had told “dishonest untruths” and his answers to the DWP questions had been “wholly unacceptable.”