Wales: ‘Disabled’ fraudster had handicap of six

Welsh golfer claimed "constant pain" and £26,000 in benefits.

A Welsh golfer pocketed £26,000 in disability benefits while winning golf tournaments and playing off a handicap of six.

Despite claiming that he suffered from arthritis so severe he could barely walk or even lift a saucepan, former mechanical engineer Alan Bannister was secretly filmed launching a 240-yard drive, before playing a full round of golf.

At Cardiff Crown Court last wee, prosecution council Stuart McLeese said: “If you were virtually unable to walk and in the position where walking would take you 10-15 minutes, why would you even be a member of a golf club?

“He’s been disingenuous and wholly dishonest.”

Bannister, of Barry in South Wales, said he had been advised to play golf by his doctors after being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis.

He had initially been given a lower rate of disability allowance, but applied for the higher rate two years later when ill-health forced him to quit work.
‘I would have ended up in a wheelchair if I did not take up golf’ That same year he joined St Andrews MAjor in Dinas Powys, and soon won the club’s championship, as well as a number of other trophies.

Bannister claimed golf helped ease his pain and said: “I would have ended up in a wheelchair if I did not take up golf. I’m more exhausted not playing golf.”

According to the prosecution, although Bannister did have arthritis, if his illness was a severe as he had claimed, it should have taken him more than 18 hours to play a round of golf.

He added that the covert film footage showed Bannister finishing the 5,400-yard course in just over four hours.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Benefit payments should go to those who really need them.

“We know it’s a small minority of people who commit benefit fraud, but deliberately not informing us of a change in your condition that may not affect your claim is a crime.”

Bannister was found guilty following two and a half hours of jury deliberations and he will be sentenced on March 12.

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