Benefits cheat handed curfew

Blackpool Magistrates Court open day pre-pix.
Blackpool Magistrates Court open day pre-pix.

BENEFITS investigators visited a village green to mount surveillance on a brazen bowler.

For 52-year-old Jacqueline Howarth netted thousands of pounds in disability and attendance allowances saying she was virtually unable to walk, could not stand for any length of time and could not prepare household meals.

But Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) officers were tipped off about her successful sporting career.

She played crown green bowls for her village team in Hambleton and would travel the county playing in tournaments.

The officers secretly filmed her picking up and bowling heavy woods.

They also saw her walk to the shops and loading her car.

When Howarth, formerly of Marsh Lane, Hambleton, appeared before Blackpool magistrates she admitted failing to tell the DWP about improvements in her health, which resulted in her being overpaid by £12,143.

Michael Woosnam, prosecuting, said Howarth started to claim benefits following a road accident.

He added: “During the years that followed she enjoyed a significant improvement and was observed walking normally and enjoying games of bowls throughout Lancashire over three seasons.

“She had chances to inform the authorities but she did not do so.”

Peter Manning, defending, said his client’s initial claim had been legitimate following injuries to her knee and leg.

He added: “She accepts she had a duty to tell the DWP about her improved health.

“Her doctor told her to take up an activity so she took up bowls. She did not use the money on an exotic or enhanced life style.”

Howarth was placed on a four month curfew.