Manchester

Ex-Lawyer Alan Blacker convicted of benefit fraud

Alan Blacker Image copyright CPS
Image caption Alan Blacker was observed driving a miniature locomotive

A former lawyer who claimed he could not walk without support has been convicted of benefit fraud after he was spotted driving a miniature locomotive.

Alan Blacker, from Rochdale, was given a suspended prison sentence earlier at Manchester Crown Court.

Blacker, 47, had been claiming Disability Living Allowance for five years, prosecutors said.

Investigators filmed him driving a miniature train, moving around with ease and climbing stairs.

Blacker was working as an advocate in Cardiff Crown Court, while claiming benefits aimed at people who were "virtually unable to walk'," Rob Girvan from the CPS said.

"He had several hobbies and interests, most of them requiring a degree of mobility which he said he didn't have," he added.

Investigators working for the Department of Work and Pensions saw Blacker getting on and off a miniature locomotive with apparent ease and taking part in first aid courses, which required kneeling, lifting and standing.

He was also seen to take part in training sessions and parades with the Sea Cadets, the CPS said.

Image copyright CPS
Image caption Alan Blacker was spotted climbing the stairs at Cardiff Crown Court unaided

In his application forms to claim benefits, Blacker claimed he could not walk without physical support from another person and required 24-hour care.

He also claimed that he could only be left safely for 15 minutes at a time and could not manage steps or stairs, the CPS said.

The CPS said Blacker had claimed £23,127 in benefits over the course of five years.

"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," Mr Girvan said.

Blacker was found guilty of making a false representation to obtain a benefit. He was sentenced to nine months in prison, which was suspended for one year.

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