South East Wales

Cardiff waterslide woman jailed for £20,000 benefit con

A woman who claimed nearly £20,000 in benefits intended for severely disabled people has been jailed after she was filmed going down a water slide.

Annunziatina Attanasio, 51, from Cardiff, was sentenced to 10 weeks at the city's crown court.

Attanasio claimed the highest rate of mobility and care for five years before she was caught, the court heard.

But she was filmed walking normally, as well as going down the slide on holiday in France six years ago.

When the video was shot, she was claiming the highest level of disability living allowance, meant only for the most severely disabled people, the court was told.

The film also showed her easily climbing out of the swimming pool.

Attanasio, of Whitchurch in the city, admitted wrongly claiming £19,374 of disability living allowance between August 2005 and February 2010 at a hearing in August.

The investigation began in 2009 after her former partner submitted the video footage to the authorities.

The court was also shown videos of Attanasio enjoying a motor home holiday where she climbed cobbled hills, walked down steep steps and strolled on the beach.

The court heard how Attanasio had claimed she was "too weak to walk any significant distance" without crutches.

Prosecutor Nicholas Gedge said: "You claimed you needed help and assistance walking, getting in and out of bed, going to the toilet and bathing.

"You said you could only walk 10m before feeling serve discomfort and said it would take you three minutes to do this.

"But these videos show you walking unaided, climbing up steep steps and using water slides."

'Benefit fraud'

Jennet Treharne, defending, said: "She did have good days and the video took place in a climate which was warmer.

"Her back disability was significantly improved on that holiday in the south of France.

"Tina has good and bad days and the videos were clearly taken on good days when the hot weather eased the pain in her back."

After the case, the Welfare Reform Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, Lord Freud, said: "It's cases like these that show us why welfare reform is needed.

"We have a duty to the taxpayer to make sure that these vital benefits only go to those who need them.

"Benefit fraud takes money away from the most vulnerable."

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