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Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2007, 12:13 GMT
Marathon runner jailed for fraud
Paul Appleby
Appleby ran the London and Robin Hood marathons
A man who ran several marathons while claiming disability benefits has been given a 10-month prison sentence.

Paul Appleby, 47, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, started claiming benefits in 1994 - saying he needed a wheelchair or walking frame to walk.

But Appleby, who claimed 22,300 in total, joined a running club in 2001, competing in road races and marathons.

Appleby admitted the fraud in December and was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday.

'Change in circumstances'

The 47-year-old former miner said he had been forced to retire from work after suffering with back problems and was genuinely disabled.

But the court heard he joined the Sutton-in-Ashfield Harriers running club in 2001 to try to lose weight put on after his retirement, and was still claiming full disability benefit.

Appleby told the court that in five minutes he could only walk 55 yards and if he left the house, had to use a wheelchair.

But after joining the running club, he went on to take part in several races including the London and Robin Hood Marathons.

The prosecution said that after the Department for Work and Pensions questioned him over the benefit claims in 2006, Appleby admitted a "massive change in his circumstances" and said he did not deserve to receive benefits.

This was blatant dishonesty and that ... affects all taxpayers
Judge David Price

Although Appleby did not explain his actions, the prosecution told the court his partner was "seriously mentally ill" and he had been distracted from informing the DWP.

Between December 2001 and January 2006, Appleby claimed a total of 22,300 in overpayments.

Judge David Price said: "This was blatant dishonesty and that sort of dishonesty affects all taxpayers in this country."

The Department of Work and Pensions minister, James Plaskitt MP, said: "Most benefit frauds are small but a few extreme cases involve quite large sums of money.

"What people need to understand who think they can get away with this is that once caught, not only do they face a criminal record and prosecution and possibly even a prison sentence, we will also have the money back as well."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Paul Appleby filmed running in a race



SEE ALSO
Marathon man admits benefit fraud
10 Jan 07 |  Nottinghamshire

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