Exeter man ran cleaning firm while on disability benefits

Image caption,
Ross Goyne claimed to be barely able to walk but was caught by a surveillance operation

A benefits cheat who ran his own business while claiming disability benefits has been spared jail after repaying almost £16,500 he owed.

Ross Goyne was caught after surveillance showed him cleaning homes and businesses in Exeter when he claimed to be barely able to walk.

At Exeter Crown Court, Goyne, 52, of Elaine Close, Exeter, admitted failing to report a change of circumstance.

He was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months.

Goyne was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 costs.

Filmed bending and stretching

Sentencing him, Judge Peter Johnson said: "It is said you are remorseful, but it may be you were more sorry about being caught than anything else.

"The main point in mitigation is that you have repaid every penny which you claimed fraudulently."

Felicity Payne, prosecuting, told an earlier hearing that Goyne started claiming disability living allowance in 2003 and by 2016 was on the higher rate on the basis that his mobility was very limited.

An investigation started in 2016 when it was discovered he had started a company called Perfect Cleaning and he was filmed walking, bending and stretching in ways that were much better than he claimed was possible.

The total overpayment between July 2016 and April 2019 was £16,498.40 and it was accepted his claim had not been fraudulent from the outset.

In interview, Goyne said he had started using CBD oil, which had improved his mobility. He admitted not informing the Department for Work and Pensions about this.

Holly Gilbery, defending, said Goyne has borrowed money from his family so he can repay the full amount and has been deemed fit enough to do unpaid work as a way of repaying the community.

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