A woman who fraudulently claimed thousands of pounds in benefits “designed for the most vulnerable” has been spared jail - so she can repay the money she stole.
Victoria Antill, 36, told authorities she suffered from a catalogue of illnesses, including strokes, PTSD, Bell’s palsy, anxiety and depression.
Antill, who works as a business crime adviser, said she could not walk without assistance and could not cook due to severe physical problems.
She also claimed she was unable to wash or bathe without help, and could not go to the toilet by herself.
But she came unstuck when CCTV showed her entering and leaving the office for Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry carrying three bags.
She had “no difficulty” with mobility, was able to climb two flights of stairs, and even entered running events.
Stafford Crown Court heard how Antill had sent letters to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) posing as her GP in support of her claim for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Antill pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly failing to notify authorities after starting work in August 2017 while claiming Disability Living Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Housing Benefits.
She was handed a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years.
Antill must also complete 30-day rehabilitation programme, and is ordered to continue to pay back £50 a month for the next three years.
Sparing her jail, the judge said: “I am going to suspend your sentence in this case so that repayments can continue.
“Prison would have serious adverse effects on you, very serious adverse effects on your family, and no further money can be repaid.”
Opening the case against Antill, prosecutor Omar Majid said: “There is no dispute that the defendant had the ailments… but the effect on her was demonstrably and grossly overstated.
“She had initially said that she could only manage (to walk) half a metre and could not walk without someone physically supporting her.”
A spokesman for the DWP said: “Benefit fraud is a crime that diverts money from those who really need it, in this case through a deliberate and sustained deception.
“In addition to any sentence imposed by the court, people must pay back all the money they falsely obtained.
“We have zero tolerance of anyone fraudulently claiming benefits and will take swift action to investigate, supporting our partners and prosecutors to bring them to justice – as we did in this case.”