Derbyshire benefit cheat is given a curfew after illegally claiming over £16,000

Pictured is Derby Crown Court.
Pictured is Derby Crown Court.

A woman who admitted illegally claiming over £16,000 in disability benefits after she was spotted walking quickly has been placed under a curfew.

Derby Crown Court heard on October 1 how Nicola Cooper, 40, of Hucklow Avenue, Chesterfield, claimed she had called the Department for Work and Pensions to indicate a change in circumstances but she continued to accept full payments.

Prosecuting solicitor Ian Shaw told a previous Chesterfield magistrates’ court hearing: “The basis from Miss Cooper is that she made a telephone call to the relevant department but as far as they are concerned they have no record of it.”

Mr Shaw added even if Cooper had made the call there is an acknowledgement that she continued to receive monthly payments with no further action on her part.

He added: “Clearly, the situation was that payment appeared every month and she did nothing after the said phone call. There was no follow-up about why she was getting all that money and she was getting letters from the Department.”

DWP staff carried out surveillance that confirmed Cooper was quite mobile, according to Mr Shaw, and she was able to move from her car unaided and she went to work and walked quite quickly.

Mr Shaw said Cooper was recorded on CCTV footage and one investigator stated they had to walk quickly to try and keep up with the defendant. He added that Cooper illegally claimed over £16,000 in disability benefits.

Mr Shaw said: “She accepts in a limited way there has been dishonesty.”

Cooper pleaded guilty to fraud by failing to disclose information to the DWP about her care and mobility needs to make a gain from a Disability Living Allowance between August, 2015, and May, 2018.

Defence solicitor Kirsty Sargent said: “She accepts an overpayment and the value of that overpayment and she accepts not making an attempt to tell the DWP after the first initial phone call which did not result in an assessment.”

Magistrates committed the matter for sentencing at Derby Crown Court on October 1.

Cooper was sentenced to a 12 month community order with a six-month curfew.