VIDEO: Cavorting male stripper cheat ‘too sick to work’

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A benefits cheat worked as a male stripper in Blackpool clubs while pocketing more than £5,000 because he claimed he was too sick to get out of bed.

Mark Hetherington - who performs under the stage name Ian Kognito - was covertly filmed taking his clothes off for cash as a 'boylesque' dancer, despite telling the Department for Work and Pensions his crippling anxiety left him unable to cook or leave the house.

Mark Hetherington on stage as Ian Kognito

Mark Hetherington on stage as Ian Kognito

Blackpool Magistrates' Court heard the 51-year-old learned his stripping ninja routine from his current partner, who performs alongside him as Kozmic Kitty.

The grandmother, whose real name is Kathy Rowan, told investigators the pair developed a sexual tension as she was teaching him to dance. They now live together.

Hetherington, of Woolman Road, admitted benefit fraud, committed between May 2012 and August 2014, after being caught on film appearing at clubs, festivals and private parties across the UK.

The court heard he broke the law by failing to disclose an improvement in his medical condition.

Malcolm Isherwood, prosecuting, told magistrates that in his claim Hetherington said he could not get out of bed or brush his teeth without assistance.

Hetherington also said he could not cook for himself and his agoraphobia left him unable to leave the house without getting panic attacks

Mr Isherwood added: “Hetherington said he was anxious all the time and especially in social circumstances and could not mix with others because of anxiety.

“However the DWP started to investigate and discovered he was working as what is known as a boylesque dancer and also nude modelling for art classes.

“He could not explain when asked how he was now coping with working with and being watched by perfect strangers.”

Hetherington told investigators dancing was a hobby and he did not earn much from it.

John McLaren,defending, said his client suffered a loss of confidence after he lost his job as a screen printer and his marriage broke up.

He said: “He accepts he should have told the DWP that his confidence had improved and he was getting better.

“He was pulling himself around and this started with the life modelling. He was not paid a lot sometimes just £15 a time.

“The dancing came a bit later and friends encouraged him to do it.

“What he did to improve his life is not everyone’s cup of tea but it is Mark Hetherington’s cup of tea.

“He is now paying back the money at £10 a week.”

Hetherington was given a one year community order during which he must carry out 150 hours unpaid work for the community. He must pay £125 court costs.

Chairman of the bench Ian Robertson told him: "Defrauding the public purse is a serious matter.”