Cheating couple in £75k benefits ruse

Michael McQuoid, 60, and wife Susan outside Preston Crown Court

Michael McQuoid, 60, and wife Susan outside Preston Crown Court

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A pair of benefit cheats have walked free from court after claiming almost £75,000 of welfare payments they were not entitled to.

Michael McQuoid, 60, claimed his mobility was so poor he could not walk and needed help with everyday tasks such as getting dressed and washing.

But investigators saw him moving easily in and out of a car and helping his wife Susan – who was claiming benefits as his carer – with her mail order catalogue business, Preston Crown Court heard.

Both defendants were previously convicted of selling fake Rolex watches last year and Mr McQuoid also has a conviction for selling cars which did not exist in 2009.

The court heard Mr McQuoid – who now lives in a caravan in Monks Wood Hall, Out Rawcliffe – started claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in 2009 at the higher rate for care and mobility.

He also claimed income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit, totalling £58,718.62.

His wife Susan, 56, claimed £17,000 of carer’s allowance - despite bringing in £41,000 from her book and gift selling business – which she failed to declare. Instead, she claimed her caring duties to her husband severely restricted her ability to work.

Mr McQuoid pleaded guilty to three counts of benefit fraud, after being confronted with surveillance which showed him lifting and carrying boxes and getting in and out of the car without any support. He was also seen walking further than the limited distance he claimed to be able to cover unaided.

Mrs McQuoid admitted a single count of benefit fraud.

It is understood they are both now paying back the money they cheated from the state.

Recorder Simon Berkson, sentencing, said: “Benefits are paid so that people can survive in society. Dishonesty costs the public purse significant amounts of money each year and affects all areas of public spending – including health care which you have benefited from over this time.”

He handed Mr McQuoid an eight month sentence, suspended for two years and put Mrs McQuoid on 12 months supervision with the probation service.