South East Wales

Benefits cheat: Tesco worker Keith Meyrick claimed £70k

A Tesco worker who unloaded trucks and stacked shelves has been jailed for claiming more than £70,000 in disability allowances.

For 10 years Keith Meyrick claimed he could not work because of mobility problems following an accident.

At Newport Crown Court he admitted seven offences of obtaining money by deception, making false statements and failing to disclose information.

Meyrick, of Maesycwmmer in Caerphilly county, was jailed for eight months.

The court heard that Meyrick worked at a Tesco in Ystrad Mynach and earned £150,000 while claiming incapacity and disability allowances.

The court was told that he was supposed to walk only with a stick and crutches, but undertook "very physical" work at the store.

His £300-a-week job as grocery team leader involved him moving stock around the store, unloading trucks and stacking shelves, the court was told.

Meyrick had been claiming benefits since 1988 after suffering a serious accident which affected his mobility.

Joanna James, prosecuting, said: "He stated that he was virtually unable to walk and relied on a walking stick and crutches at all times."

But the court heard that he was fit enough to apply for a job in 2001.

Hip operation

He told Tesco managers in a store questionnaire that he had no health problems and was perfectly able to carry out his work.

For 10 years Meyrick claimed benefits until he was unmasked after a tip-off to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the court heard.

During that time he had amassed £50,500 in incapacity benefit and £23,400 in disability living allowances, the court was told.

Miss James said: "He was sent annual reminders by the DWP about notifying them if his circumstances changed, but he never did.

"Although he walked with a limp managers never saw him using any aids to walk."

Meyrick left the dock with the help of a walking stick, the result of a hip operation four months ago.

Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said: "You suffered a serious accident in 1988 but clearly you recovered and did your job well and efficiently.

"It is vital that public confidence in the benefits system is maintained and the public needs to be reassured that people who defraud public funds will be punished.

"You carried out a multiple fraud over a very significant period of time."

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