Entertainer jailed for benefits fraud

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The Independent Online

A benefits cheat who claimed he could barely walk while secretly working as a children's entertainer called "Wavey Davey" was jailed for 24 weeks today.

David Simpson, 45, pocketed £35,410 in Disability Living Allowance after telling officials he was "virtually invalid" for at least nine years.

Simpson, from Wallsend Court, Widnes, Cheshire, was arrested after an anonymous tip-off about his activities led to a 19-month undercover investigation by fraud inspectors from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Covert surveillance caught him performing as "Wavey Davey" at children's parties across the North West and also as a gymnastics instructor for a local authority.

Simpson holds a silver medal in gymnastics from the "Alternative" Commonwealth Games in 1986, which took place amid a boycott of the main games in Edinburgh that year by anti-apartheid campaigners.

He pleaded guilty to false accounting on August 31 and was sentenced today at Warrington Crown Court.

Passing sentence, Judge Thomas Teague QC told Simpson he could only give an immediate prison sentence for such a "blatant" scam.

He said: "On 8 March 1991, you submitted a claim form in which you alleged that you were only able to walk a short distance and could only climb stairs with pain.

"The fact was that you had in fact sustained an injury, a significant injury, in a road traffic accident some 18 months or two years earlier.

"And, until then, you had been a young man with an extremely promising career as an athlete.

"In 1992, the rate at which you could claim increased and you continued to receive payments until you came under investigation in 2008, a total period of some 17 years.

"It is clear that, when you made your very first claim before 1991, it was a genuine and legitimate claim.

"However it is clear that there was some considerable improvement in your condition. You had in fact been working as a children's entertainer, something that clearly involved mobility far in excess of what you had put in your claim form, and you were working as a pre-school gym instructor."

He added: "There was a total overpayment of £35,410 and some pence. That was not paid to you directly either on a weekly or monthly basis but every three years or so, when you purchased a car, you received from the taxpayer a significant contribution to the cost of your vehicle by reason of the serious restrictions on your mobility.

"This was just too blatant to suspend the inevitable term of custody."

Simpson is voluntarily paying back £100 a month, with his first payment due tomorrow.

James Smith, mitigating, said Simpson's reputation was now in "complete tatters".