‘Ac­tion man’ fac­ing prison

Cynon Valley - - FRONT PAGE - WALES NEWS SER­VICE echo.news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

A BEN­E­FITS cheat is fac­ing jail af­ter claim­ing he was too weak to walk more than 50 me­tres – be­fore climb­ing Mount Kil­i­man­jaro and tak­ing part in a triathlon.

A BEN­E­FITS cheat is fac­ing jail af­ter claim­ing he was too weak to walk more than 50 me­tres – be­fore climb­ing Mount Kil­i­man­jaro and tak­ing part in a triathlon.

For­mer para­trooper Mark Lloyd, 33, of Ynysybwl, also took part in the World Power­boat Cham­pi­onships in Malta while claim­ing to be suf­fer­ing from a slipped disc, which left him in “ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain”.

He is known as “Ac­tion Man Mark”, and Merthyr Mag­is­trates’ Court heard that he was paid £6,551.80 in dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits and used the money to help fund his ac­tion-filled out­door ad­ven­tures.

Prose­cu­tor Chris Evans said: “You’d be for­given for think­ing this was two dif­fer­ent peo­ple from hear­ing about his con­di­tion and how it af­fected his day-to­day life, and then hear­ing about the type of ac­tiv­i­ties he was un­der­tak­ing.

“He set out in his claim forms he needs a walk­ing aid and on a bad day he can’t bend and reach his knees.

“He said he can only walk be­tween 20 and 50 me­tres, can’t walk on un­even ground, suf­fers pain when walk­ing long dis­tances and needs to sit down ev­ery 20 min­utes.

“That does not tally up with the ac­tiv­i­ties he was un­der­tak­ing.”

Lloyd was found to have over­stated his needs, and dur­ing the 18-month pe­riod of claim­ing ben­e­fits he had climbed Mount Kil­i­man­jaro over five days and walked for be­tween eight and 12 hours a day.

He also took part in the World Power­boat Cham­pi­onships in Malta and com­peted in the HSBC triathlon in Septem­ber 2015.

The court heard Lloyd was med­i­cally dis­charged from the army in 2011 af­ter suf­fer­ing in­jury to his lower back while serv­ing in Afghanistan.

In 2014 he ap­plied for the Per­sonal In­de­pen­dence Pay­ment – up to £141 a week for those suf­fer­ing long-term ill-health to help cover costs of their care.

He then ap­plied for more money a year later, say­ing his con­di­tion had wors­ened and he would be bedrid­den for a day if he walked more than 50 me­tres.

Mr Evans said: “The case is not whether he has an in­jury or not, but if he ex­ag­ger­ated his con­di­tion to claim money.”

Lloyd ad­mit­ted fill­ing in risk as­sess­ment forms to en­ter three triathlons with­out re­veal­ing he suf­fered ill-health.

He said: “I didn’t want any spe­cial treat­ment or as­sis­tance.

“I wanted to be self-suf­fi­cient and com­pete at the same level as ev­ery­one else.

“Af­ter com­pet­ing I’m bedrid­den for a cou­ple of days. But I wanted to push my­self.”

James Har­ris, de­fend­ing, said Lloyd had not been dis­hon­est – and had sim­ply been able to push through the pain bar­rier be­cause of his train­ing in the army.

Mr Har­ris said: “He has the abil­ity to push him­self through pain. He is an exser­vice­man.

“When climb­ing Mount Kil­i­man­jaro he said he pushed him­self and was in agony.

“But he did it any­way be­cause his choices were ei­ther to sit in the house and let his men­tal health get the bet­ter of him, or get out and get on with his life.”

But Dis­trict Judge Martin Brown called Lloyd’s de­fence “non­sense” – say­ing he had de­lib­er­ately lied to get “ev­ery penny he could”.

Dis­trict Judge Brown said: “The very fact he lied about a num­ber of fac­tors shows he re­alised he was be­ing dis­hon­est.

“He bla­tantly lied about the sever­ity of his con­di­tion.

“This is a man who be­lieves as he is an ex-para­trooper who was med­i­cally dis­charged from serv­ing his coun­try, he feels he de­serves ev­ery penny he gets.”

Lloyd was found guilty of a sin­gle charge of fraud af­ter a trial at Merthyr Tyd­fil Mag­is­trates’ Court.

The court heard his lat­est of­fence took place while he was serv­ing a 20-week sus­pended prison sentence for com­mon as­sault.

Dis­trict Judge Brown ad­journed sen­tenc­ing, warn­ing Lloyd he could not rule out a cus­to­dial sentence.

Laura Wal­ters, a prose­cu­tor in the Crown Prose­cu­tion Ser­vice’s spe­cial­ist fraud divi­sion, said: “Mark Lloyd flouted the sys­tem to claim thou­sands of pounds of dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits, all the while tak­ing part in tough phys­i­cal chal­lenges.

“Lloyd vastly over­stated his care needs in or­der to claim the cash but he could not hide from the ev­i­dence put for­ward by the prose­cu­tion, in­clud­ing photos of his par­tic­i­pa­tion in a climb of Mount Kil­i­man­jaro and his par­tic­i­pa­tion in a triathlon.”

Lloyd will be sen­tenced on Au­gust 3 at Merthyr Tyd­fil Mag­is­trates’ Court.

For­mer para­trooper Mark Lloyd re­ceived £6,551.80 in dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits and used the money to help fund his ac­tion-filled out­door ad­ven­tures

For­mer para­trooper Mark Lloyd

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