Wales: Golfing fraudster jailed for six months

Alan Bannister won tournaments while claiming disability benefits.

A man who pocketed £26,000 in disability benefits while winning golf tournaments and playing off a handicap of six has been jailed for six months.

Alan Bannister (56) exaggerated the severity of his arthritis for eight years and was give a top rate payment usually reserved for people who can not walk.

The former mechanical engineer insisted he could not hold a saucepan or peel potatoes, struggled to dress himself and took 15 minutes to walk as little as 50 metres.

Bannister was also handed a mobility car which he used to drive to golf tournaments, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

Secret footage emerged of Bannister lifting a bag of clubs with one hand before launching a 240-yard drive from the first tee, approaching the 18th hole four hours later. 

Jailing Bannister, recorder David Miller described his actions as a “blatant” fraud which had lasted for eight years and totalled £26,090.

The judge said: “I imagine someone with high mobility needs rightly claiming Disability Living Allowance and watching that footage of you playing golf, hearing about your golfing prowess, your championships, and wondering how on earth you were getting what they were getting.”
‘What awaits him is a life of misery’ A jury at Cardiff Crown Court took less than two and a half hours to convict Bannister of a single charge of obtaining money transfers by deception.

On a form in 2007, Bannister had repeated his claims that he could not peel potatoes and did not have any improvement on his condition.

Miller added: “You were unanimously convicted by a jury because during the time you were claiming DLA, you were an active member of your local golf club with a handicap of six.

“From 2009 to 2011 you were the junior organiser, which involved you coaching and monitoring young players.

“You won competitions almost on an annual basis. You were the men’s champion in 2006 and you played regularly throughout this period.”

Having been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, Bannister claimed that he was encouraged to take up golf by his doctor as the game helped alleviate his symptoms.

Representing Bannister, David Leathley said his client’s initial claim had been a bona fide one, but he then “overstepped the mark”.

He added: “What awaits him is a life of misery in the community. He has to atone for his act of exaggeration which he bitterly must regret. He is a broken man.”

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