Former solicitor sentenced for benefit fraud
Date published: 10 January 2020
Alan Blacker on miniature railway
A former solicitor who said he could not walk without help, but was spotted driving a miniature locomotive, has been sentenced for benefit fraud.
The CPS Mersey-Cheshire Fraud Unit proved that Alan Blacker, 47, of Rochdale, dishonestly claimed Disability Living Allowance for five years, stealing £23,127 from the taxpayer.
In his application forms for the benefit, Blacker claimed:
- He was unable to walk without physical support from another person
- He required personal care from another person at all times during the day and night
- He could only be left safely for 15 minutes at a time but generally not at all
- He could not manage steps or stairs.
But the CPS had video footage and surveillance material gathered by Department for Work and Pensions investigators, that showed him:
- Driving miniature locomotives and getting on and off those locomotives with apparent ease
- Taking part in first aid courses which required bending, kneeling, lifting and standing for significant periods
- Taking part in training sessions and parades with the Sea Cadets
- Representing a defendant at Cardiff Crown Court in a serious matter and navigating the court building (and walking around a site visit to a stretch of dual carriageway) with ease. This included going up and down a significant number of steps at a brisk pace with no difficulty at all.
He was found guilty on 26 November 2019 following a trial at Manchester Crown Court of making a false representation to obtain a benefit.
The jury failed to reached a verdict on a further count of dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances.
Today, 10 January 2019, at Manchester Crown Court, Blacker was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for a year.
Rob Girvan, of the CPS Mersey Cheshire Fraud Unit, said: "At one point during this investigation, Alan Blacker was working as an advocate in Cardiff Crown Court, moving around the building with ease and climbing stairs, while claiming benefits aimed at people who are ‘virtually unable to walk’.
"He had several hobbies and interests, most of them requiring a degree of mobility which he said he didn't have.
"The Crown Prosecution Service built a strong case against Alan Blacker and the jury agreed with us that he made deliberate, dishonest representations about his capabilities.
"This money is much needed by many genuine claimants throughout the country and people like Blacker put dishonest demands on an already stretched public purse."
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