A keen golfer who falsely claimed almost £26,000 in disability benefits said he was unable to walk despite being caught on camera playing golf at a competitive level.
John Hollingworth, 60, of Commercial Road, Chorley, had been playing golf with a handicap of six but was caught out after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) secretly filmed him.
Preston Magistrates’ Court heard that Hollingworth was seen playing golf, driving to and from the golf course and handling golf equipment.
Hollingworth was spared jailed but has been told he must remain indoors between 7pm and 7am for six months.
The court was told that in 1997 Hollingworth he made his initial claim to the Department for Work and Pensions because he was suffering from severe lower back pain, gout, diabetes and arthritis. He claimed higher level disability living allowance, with the mobility element, claiming he could not walk or drive.
When asked to stand in the dock Hollingworth, who wore a green and grey coat and a burgundy sweatshirt, struggled to stand.
The DWP started investigating Hollingworth in 2012 after they were informed he may be claiming falsely.
The department’s investigation found he had been playing golf competitively at his local golf club in Chorley and he had been a member at Leyland Golf Club.
Andrea Fawcett, prosecuting, told the court that in December 2012 Hollingworth attended an interview at the job centre where he maintained that he was unable to walk long distances.
She added: “In January 2013 he was interviewed again and he admitted that he had been playing golf since 2001 and he had been capable of playing in competitive golf, maintaining a handicap in single figures. He maintained in the interview he still had health issues and required exercise to assist with the pain.”
Nigel Beeson, defending, said: ”This was a gentleman who certainly on occasions was able to swing a golf club with a degree of accuracy.”
But he told the court that Hollingworth, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, had no previous convictions and was of previous good character.
Hollingworth was given a 16-week sentence suspended for 24 months. He has also been placed on a curfew between 7pm until 7am for six months and must wear an electronic tag.
He was also ordered to pay £200 in costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
Last year our sister paper the Chorley Guardian reported that Hollingworth had started running a golf simulator in his front room for golf enthusiasts.