Bath City

Benefit cheater jailed after images revealed ‘ridiculous’ lies Bath City News

A benefits cheater has been jailed after claiming to be unable to walk unaided – but was filmed shopping at a supermarket.

Ann Hooper has raised £ 33,000 in benefits by making false claims, not only for herself but for her two adult sons – one of whom was pictured pulling her mobility car with a rope in the exterior of a gymnasium.

Hooper claimed his two sons were unable to get out of their wheelchairs, but evidence in court showed one was walking a mile and the other was enjoying an adventure vacation in Canada.

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Hooper, 49, of Axminster, was jailed for nine months in Exeter Crown Court, where a judge told her she was “fundamentally dishonest” and that her attempts to lie to get herself out of trouble had been “ridiculous”.

The family all claimed disability or personal independence benefits for three years until they were caught by a surveillance operation mounted by investigators from the Ministry of Work and Pensions.

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Hooper was spotted shopping at an Axminster supermarket days before and after she had her disability assessed at her home.

She explained to the nurse doing the test that she had such limited mobility that she could not get on a sofa and that she could only walk a maximum of 20 meters using a stick.

During the trial, the jury saw videos of Aaron, 31, lifting heavy weights in a gym in Chard and walking unaided through Axminster with a guitar slung over his back.

There were footage of his 23-year-old son Ryan walking the Honiton Show for over an hour with only a slight limp and social media posts showing him standing at minus 16 degrees. He also flew to Taiwan on another public holiday.

The two brothers were filmed secretly wandering the back porch of their home with no visible disabilities.

His other son Aaron was a regular gym user who was featured in an Instagram post in which he demonstrated his strength by pulling his taxpayer-supplied Motability car through the parking lot on a tow rope.

Hooper, of Bonners Glen, Axminster, has denied three counts of benefit fraud but was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court last month.

Ann Hooper was spotted walking unaided in a supermarket

Judge Timothy Rose, who told him, “You must have known that the claims were false and dishonest and you did not correct that.

“It went on for about two years in such a fundamentally dishonest way that it’s almost impossible to know where to start. The claims were clearly wrong.

“You lied throughout the trial as if you ignored the reality of the situation. You lied wildly to the jury. It was ridiculous. “

Hooper told the jury that the claims were genuine and that the boys were testing their ability to endure pain when they were filmed.

Mr Barry White, defending, said all three had real disabilities and would have been entitled to certain benefits, if not those they claimed.

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This notice was published: 2021-09-03 20:02:44

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