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Benefits cheat jailed for six months

August 30, 2011

A benefit cheat who claimed more than 20,000 in disability payments while playing HUNDREDS of rounds of golf has been jailed for six months.

Ex-psychiatric nurse Peter Crowder retired after, he claimed, rheumatoid arthritis in his back and hands had rendered him unable to continue working.

But while he pocketed thousands of pounds in benefits he was playing three rounds of golf a week at an #800-a-year plush private members’ club in Lancashire.

The 51-year-old pleaded guilty to claiming #20,217.30 in disability living allowance between the 4th Oct 2006 and 7th of Sept 2010, while enjoying 18-hole rounds at Hurlston Hall Golf Club in Scarisbrick.

A former employee at Ashworth Hospital, where Moors Murderer Ian Brady is held,
a bearded Mr Crowder showed no emotion as he was jailed at Liverpool Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Prosecutor Miss Cornwall said that Mr Crowder had stated he was in extreme pain and needed a walking stick all times, while it took him five or six minutes to climb a flight of stairs.

Miss Cornwall said: “Mr Crowder said he needed help with bodily functions and required someone to keep an eye on him at all times.

“On a number of occasions during the surveillance it showed him walking a significant distance unaided, participating in a round of golf and walking from green to green with no difficulty.”

Following an anonymous tip off, it emerged that the father of two had played 49 competitions with a handicaps of 23, 24 and 25 between 1st Jan 2007 and 17th March 2010.

Mr Crowder also attended the club 151 times between 4th April 2009 and 28th May 2010 and lives in a semi-detached house in Parkbourn Square, Maghull, near Liverpool.

He was observed for three days by the Department of Work and Pensions. On one day he was seen playing a full round of golf and climbing in and out of a golf buggy.

The court heard how Mr Crowder started claiming a medium rate of disability allowance after retiring from his job in June 2005 but increased to a higher rate in August 2007.

Defending Rebecca Templeton said Mr Crowder had paid back the amount in full after remortgaging his house.

Miss Templeton said: “He accepts that he’s wrong. He entered a guilty plea at the first opportunity.

“He’s a married man with two young sons. This has had a deep effect on Mr Crowder.

“He’s remorseful and put himself in significant debt to repay the state.”

Jailing him District Judge Miriam Shelvey told Crowder: “Those were serious offences.

“You have taken money from the public purse.

“You are an intelligent man. It’s clear to me that you knew what you were doing and what you were doing was wrong.

“I have to give you credit for your guilty plea. You lost your good character when you pleaded guilty.”

He was sentenced to six months in prison for one count of failing to declare a change in circumstances and another of false representation.