Stud farm disability benefits couple caught on camera
- 7 March 2011
- From the section South East Wales
A couple who claimed more than £6,000 in disability benefits while running a stud farm have been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Nicolas Arnold, 57, and wife Mair, 57, received financial aid after claiming various health problems left them "virtually unable to walk".
Cameras caught them carrying food pails and mucking out horses at Blackbridge Arabians in the Garw Valley.
Magistrates in Bridgend ordered the pair to be placed under curfew.
They were given an eight-week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months.
Fraud investigator Garth Jones played the court an 18-minute DVD of surveillance showing the couple working on their stud farm over a nine-month period.
He said: "As you can see, neither of them are displaying any difficulty with their mobility.
"In fact, they were running an operation called Blackbridge Arabians specialising in Arabian horses."
He added: "At no time during the video surveillance did Mr or Mrs Arnold make use of any walking aids."
The court was told the couple claimed disability living allowance saying neither of them could walk and they suffered from conditions including diabetes and heart problems.
Nicolas Arnold wrote on claim forms that "words could not describe" how tough his life was.
He claimed he "could barely walk" as he battled diabetes, hypertension, heart arrhythmia, sleep apnoea, depression, severe back problems and impotence.
Mair Arnold said "chronic fatigue and depression" meant she slept up to 20 hours a day.
Prosecutor Jonathan Holmes said the couple had both been receiving benefits payments for their care and mobility allowance for nearly 15 years.
He said: "Nicolas also received the highest rate of allowance related to care, claiming he needed round-the-clock attention including help using the toilet.
"Mr Arnold filled in the form saying that he could not walk at all.
"He said he walked zero metres seven days a week and needed a walking stick or someone to help him stand up and get his balance."
Mrs Arnold said she could not walk at all and needed a zimmer frame, walking stick, wheelchair or carers, he told the court.
But surveillance footage showed her holding a rake as she cleared horse manure out of their stables.
He said the footage showed Mr Arnold taking manure away using the wheel barrow and carrying two blue buckets of horse-feed along a 200m farm track.
Magistrates' chairman John Hughes said: "The offences were so serious that they warranted an eight-week custodial sentence."
But he suspended it for 12 months and put the couple on a combined 24-hour curfew.
Mrs Arnold will be under curfew from midday to midnight while her husband will be unable to leave the house from midnight to midday.