HIV sufferer from Islington jailed for benefit fraud

‘Brazen’ cheat fiddled �62k while working to spend on overseas trips

A HIV sufferer who fraudulently claimed disability benefits splashed out on holidays in Venezuala, Prague and Dublin, a court heard this week.

Dermot Weldon, 34, of Sherbourne Street, Islington, netted �61,865 in handouts over a seven-year period while working regular shifts as a barman at a north London pub.

He was jailed for six months at Southwark Crown Court on Monday after pleading guilty to two counts of failing to give a prompt notification of a change in circumstances between 2002 and 2009.

Sentencing Weldon, Judge Martin Beddoe said: “This was in my judgement a pretty brazen fraud on your part on the benefits system.

“I’m quite sure that you knew full well from the outset of your commencing employment in 2002 that you should declare it and that you knew it would wholly undermine your entitlement to the benefits.

“It does seem to me a significant aggravating feature that the money you received enabled you to make regular trips to your native Ireland and trips to the Czech Republic and Venezuela.”

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Weldon, who was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1998, began claiming disability living allowance and incapacity benefit in 2000 on the grounds he was unable to work as a result of his condition.

Defending Weldon, Nathalie Parker said her client accepted that he should have informed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when he gained employment in 2002. She told the court that working helped him cope with depression brought on by his diagnosis.

She continued: “As time went on and more shifts were offered to him he found himself doing more and more work. He then effectively buried his head in the sand.”

He was sentenced to six months on each count to run concurrently.

A spokesperson for DWP said: “Benefit thieves take money from people who need it the most and are costing the taxpayer almost �1billion per year. Welfare reforms will simplify the benefits system and make it much easier to detect and catch these criminals.”