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VIDEO: Perthshire £70k disability benefit cheat caught on 5k runs

Annette Bond was caught on video on 5k runs, during a "prolonged and egregious course of dishonesty."

A benefits cheat who was caught on video doing daily 5k runs near her Perthshire home while claiming nearly £70,000 of disability aid has been jailed.

Former care worker Annette Bond told the Department for Work and Pensions she was too sick to walk and needed a stick to get around.

But her lies were exposed when a private investigator secretly recorded her going on regular early morning jogs over roads and through woodlands.

Video, today released to The Courier by Crown Office prosecutors, shows Bond setting out from her home in running gear for half-hour jogs through the countryside.

Annette Bond stood trial at Perth Sheriff Court.

At the same time, she was claiming balance problems telling authorities she was at constant risk of falling due to dizzy spells.

Returning to court on her 50th birthday, Bond – who worked with Perth charity PKAVS – was imprisoned for two years for what Sheriff William Wood described as “a prolonged and egregious course of dishonesty.”

Christmas party dancing

Bond had denied fraudulently claiming Disablity Living Allowance “enhanced care” and “enhanced mobility” payments between April 2009 and November 2018.

But she was found guilty after a six day trial at Perth Sheriff Court.

Jurors took just 40 minutes to convict the first offender.

Annette Bond was secretly filmed on early morning runs near her home in Stanley. Image: Crown Office

Sheriff Wood told her: “The rate of benefits awarded to you was dependent upon honest disclosure of your abilities.

“On the basis of your application, you were awarded the highest rate of care component and the higher rate of mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

“These are normally for those who require a high level of daily care to enable them to go about the daily business of living and those who cannot or who are virtually unable to walk unaided.”

Bond was videoed running along roads near her home. Image: Crown Office

He pointed out her colleagues said she “rarely used a stick”, negotiated stairs unaided and danced at a Christmas function.

“But by far the most graphic evidence in the trial that your condition had improved was the surveillance footage obtained by DWP investigators from 2017, recording your ability to run 5km, over mixed terrain, more than once a week,” the sheriff said.

“Even two of your own witnesses – a former colleague and one of your medical consultants – were clearly surprised that you had been able to do that in 2017.”

State money could have been ‘usefully spent elsewhere’

Sheriff Wood continued: “I have noted that you continue to maintain your position of innocence – that you were not aware of doing anything wrong and ignorant of your obligations.

“I do not accept that, in light of the clear, unambiguous and repeated intimations to you of the need to report to the DWP any changes to your condition that might effect your entitlement to benefits.

Setting off on another run. Image: Crown Office

“Further, as a person whose employment brought you into daily contact with those providing care to the truly disabled, you must have known that you did not meet the criteria for the benefits of which you were in receipt.”

He added: “Your conduct can only be characterised as a prolonged and egregious course of dishonesty, for which there is no excuse.

“You have obtained, through fraud, a significant sum of money to which you had no entitlement and you have deprived the taxpayer of funds that might have been usefully spent elsewhere.”

Caught on camera running uphill. Image: Crown Office

The sheriff told Bond: “While I accept that community-based disposals are available to me, I am nevertheless satisfied that only a custodial sentence is appropriate.

“There is nothing exceptional about your circumstances or the commission of this offence that would indicate otherwise.”

He said: “You have defrauded the state of a large sum of money over a protracted period when you must have been aware that your circumstances no longer justified receipt of the types and levels of benefits awarded to you some years before.”

Jailing Bond for two years, Sheriff Wood also issued a confiscation order to reclaim the sum of £67,062.50 within six months under Proceeds of Crime powers.

Running with ‘rosy cheeks’

The trial heard from fraud investigator Scott Hodge, who was tasked with putting Bond under surveillance for the DWP in May 2017.

He carried out secret filming in a van parked near her home in Sheilhill Park, Stanley.

Mr Hodge noted that in one video – taken at 6.15am on May 31 – his subject appeared from her home in full running gear “with rosy cheeks”.

Annette Bond
Bond used a cane throughout her trial.

The clip showed Bond walking briskly from her home, before running down the street.

She was seen jogging for about 30 minutes over “hills, ascents and descents”.

She ran the same route on June 7 and again on June 9.

“It was felt that we would probably just see more of the same over the following days, so the decision was made to end surveillance,” he said.

The court heard Bond, who also ran an online jewellery business, was seen dancing at a PKAVS Christmas party and regularly moved around the office without difficulty.

Sell house to pay back cash

Bond told jurors she suffered from vertigo, ME, fibromyalgia, PTSD and Raynaud’s Phenomenon, where blood does not flow to the tips of her fingers and toes.

Her solicitor John McLaughlin said the conditions are real and have been vouched for by medical professionals.

“Never in her wildest imaginations did she expect to be in court facing sentence for an offence of this kind,” he said.

He added that Bond was also facing the “real prospect” of having to sell her specially-adapted home to pay back the outstanding sum.

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