Fitness class fraudster claimed £32,000 in disability benefits

A fraudster was seen running between aerobics and yoga classes at a gym while claiming over £32,000 in disability benefits.

By Tony Gardner
Tuesday, 23rd June 2015, 12:00 am

Susan McCabe was jailed for nine months after a court heard she blatantly “bled” the benefits system for five years.

McCabe, 60, enjoyed 20 foreign holidays during the period of offending, often requesting to stay on the top floor of hotels which could not be reached by a lift.

Leeds Crown Court heard McCabe became a member of Total Fitness gym and Sun Lane leisure centre, in Wakefield, where she took part in fitness classes four or five times per week. She also used treadmills, a cycling machine and a cross trainer to keep fit.

Staff at one centre described how she could often be seen running down stairs between aqua aerobics and yoga classes so she wasn’t late.

Emma Downing, prosecuting, said McCabe initially made legitimate benefit claims after declaring she could not get out of bed or prepare meals without help.

But she failed to notify the Department of Work and Pensions of an improvement in her condition and made the illegal claims for disability living allowance.

She was paid around £500 between 2009 and 2014. She was arrested after being put under surveillance and was filmed getting in and out of her car and walking up and down a steeping banking.

McCabe, of Elder Avenue, Wakefield pleaded guilty to failing to notify a change in circumstances to obtain benefit. She has previous convictions for theft and handling stolen goods.

Richard Clews, mitigating, said McCabe had initially made legitimate benefits. She was now re-paying the money at a rate of £5 per week.

Judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, said: “You bled the system of money to which you were not entitled, and those who are entitled to it and need it are disadvantaged because there is less money for them.”