Benefits cheat mum pocketed £10,000 while working as police crime adviser

A mum pocketed £10,830 in benefits after claiming she was too ill to work despite having a full-time job as a business crime adviser based at Staffordshire Police HQ.

Lying Victoria Antill forged letters from her doctor that she sent to the authorities detailing her many health problems, which she claimed left her housebound.

But a court heard how CCTV footage showed her "walking into work wearing high heels with no apparent difficulties," Stoke on Trent Live reports.

The 36-year-old former displayed "significant dishonesty," the court heard.

At sentencing, as she was spared jail, she was told: "There are blatant aspects of inconsistency between your working life and the statements you were making to the benefit authorities."

Antill had a job with Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and went into work immediately following a home assessment of her eligibility for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), during which she told her assessor that she needed a carer to help her every day and she was no longer able to drive.

Stafford Crown Court heard Antill served two tours of Iraq in the Army, following which she developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

She also suffered from a number of other medical issues which led her to legitimately start to receive benefits in 2013.

But she failed to let the authorities know when her health improved and she was able to start working for the Chambers of Commerce in 2017.

This meant she continued to receive Disability Living Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and housing benefit on top of her wages.

The mother-of-one also lodged a dishonest claim for PIP in 2017 and was awarded the highest rate of payment.

Prosecutor Omar Majid said her PIP self-assessment form listed numerous medical complaints including PTSD, Bell’s palsy, strokes, neurological disorder, ischemic events, and anxiety and depression.

He said: “The defendant claimed she could not lift or stand and could not weight bear.

"She said she was unable to wash or bathe without help and required a commode.

"She needed help from two carers, needed help with communication and would often get mixed up or confused.

"She stated she was housebound and only went out rarely for hospital appointments.

"Her application was supported by two signed letters from her GP, but it was later found the letters were not genuine.

"The defendant had a face-to-face consultation at her home with a disability adviser to assess her claim.

"At the conclusion of that appointment she went to work. The Crown say that was brazen dishonesty."

The court heard Antill told the DWP her circumstances had not changed during a phone call two days after she started work.

Meanwhile she told her employer she had previously suffered from PTSD and Bell’s palsy but needed no further treatment.

Mr Majid said: "Somewhat ironically, she was working as a business crime helpline adviser 35 hours a week, based at Staffordshire Police HQ.

“Statements were taken from colleagues who said she was a ‘normal person’ who never demonstrated any difficulty with mobility or care needs.

"Her manager confirmed her attendance was 100 per cent and she was dealing with a large workload.

"CCTV footage showed her parking and walking into work wearing high heels with no apparent difficulties."

Following a DWP invesitgation, Antill, of Brewood, South Staffordshire, pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly failing to notify a change in her circumstances and a further charge of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain payment.

Saleema Mahmood, mitigating, said Antill had been paying the money back and had so far repaid almost £2,000.

“She did have an illness, she did have a disability,” said Miss Mahmood. “The issue was how they affected her ability to function.

“Her upbringing was somewhat difficult. She has a history of neurological deficits and physical symptoms that have hindered her daily life.”

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