A benefit cheat caught after investigators saw him jumping around playing a double bass in a trio that included a former Emmerdale and Birds of a Feather actor has been jailed.

David Ballantyne was receiving disability allowance after claiming he could not work and had difficulty walking 10 to 15 yards or climbing stairs following a knee injury. He subsequently said he had pain in his neck and shoulders as well.

But when he was put under surveillance in 2012 he was seen playing with Chuck Wagon, who advertised themselves as a rock and roll trio with a country twist and included Alun Lewis, who played Vic Windsor in Emmerdale and Darryl Stubbs in Birds of a Feather.

Miles Barker, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday the performance was a real eye opener as Ballantyne, who used the name David Roberts, played with such “exuberance and enthusiasm” jumping around and spinning his double bass in a way that “clearly belied his incapacity statement.”

Benefits cheat David Ballantyne astride his double bass that he played with band Chuck Wagon
Benefits cheat David Ballantyne astride his double bass that he played with band Chuck Wagon
 

When questioned Ballantyne said he still had problems but took pain killers to live with them.

Mr Barker told the court a number of diaries were seized at the house where Ballantyne was living in Meadow Park, Kirkheaton, and they showed the trio had been rehearsing and doing gigs, one as far away as Somerset.

They also showed Ballantyne had been doing IT work helping individuals and companies with problems and websites, had helped a neighbour put up scaffolding and done regular decorating at his home.

In addition to his employment lies he pretended he was a tenant at the house where he lived with his former partner and daughter so that housing benefit was paid by Kirklees Council.

In all he received £25,498.52 in income support, £17,797.18 in housing benefit and £12,828.35 in disability living allowance – a total of £56,124.05 to which he was not entitled. He was exposed following the joint investigation by Kirklees Council and the Department of Work and Pensions.

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Michael Sisson-Pell, representing Ballantyne said he had genuinely been injured and unable to work for some years so his disability claim was not fraudulent from the outset but he accepted his condition had improved and he knew he should have notified the department.

The trio had mainly played in the Huddersfield area and after paying agents fees and petrol each member usually only received about £70 a gig.

He said Ballantyne had become homeless in 2006 and moved back to his former partner’s home. They had not resumed a sexual relationship but he accepted he lived as a family.

“It was a distinction that was lost on him,” said Michael Sisson-Pell

Ballantyne, 60 admitted four charges of making false representations for benefit or failing to notify a change in circumstance.

Jailing him for 12 months, Recorder Tim Hirst said he had failed to disclose the truth about his improving condition.

Denise Denman, 49, Ballantyne’s former partner previously had charges of conspiracy to defraud the council against her dropped.

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