Ex-lawyer who could barely walk ‘pic­tured on model rail train’

COURT TOLD FOR­MER SO­LIC­I­TOR ‘MADE FALSE BEN­E­FIT CLAIMS’

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By HE­LEN JOHN­SON news­[email protected] @MENnews­desk

A FOR­MER so­lic­i­tor who was al­legedly pic­tured sit­ting on a model train whilst claim­ing he was so un­well he could barely walk has gone on trial ac­cused of ben­e­fit fraud.

Alan Blacker, 46, from Rochdale, claimed to be in so much pain that he could not walk more than 20 yards with­out help, strug­gled to stand in the shower and found it hard to cut up food, a court heard.

Be­tween 1998 and 2016 he claimed Dis­abil­ity Liv­ing Al­lowance (DLA), claim­ing to be se­verely dis­abled and in ex­treme pain from a num­ber of con­di­tions, in­clud­ing fi­bromyal­gia, spondy­lolis­the­sis and a heart mur­mur, the court was told.

But pros­e­cu­tors say the for­mer so­lic­i­tor, who was struck off in 2016, was far more mo­bile than he claimed.

Mr Blacker has gone on trial ac­cused of fail­ing to no­tify the De­part­ment for Work and Pen­sions (DWP) of a change in his cir­cum­stances and dis­hon­estly mak­ing state­ments about his phys­i­cal ca­pac­ity.

In one ap­pli­ca­tion for sup­port, the jury was told, Mr Blacker wrote: “I can­not carry on a real life and ev­ery­thing is too much ef­fort. I can’t do any­thing, I am in real pain.”

But open­ing the case for the pros­e­cu­tion at Manch­ester’s Min­shull Street Crown Court, Chloe Ford­ham told the court that ev­i­dence sug­gested that Mr Blacker’s is­sues with mo­bil­ity were “noth­ing that came close” to what he sug­gested.

Wit­ness John Breen, from the DWP in Black­pool, told the court that footage of Mr Blacker, and state­ments from wit­nesses, were “clearly at odds” with the claim he put in.

When asked about a photo sup­pos­edly of Mr Blacker sit­ting with chil­dren on a model rail­way train, Mr Breen, who stopped Mr Blacker’s ben­e­fits after an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in 2016, said: “He main­tained it was a great ef­fort to stand or get out of a chair, but he ap­peared to have no dif­fi­culty from the state­ments and pic­tures.”

Mr Breen was due to be cross ex­am­ined by Mr Blacker’s de­fence yesterday. The Crown also called Vic­to­ria Hains, a clerk at Cardiff Crown Court.

Ms Hains told the jury she en­coun­tered Mr Blacker when he was work­ing as a bar­ris­ter on a trial she was as­signed to in Au­gust 2014.

She said she did not re­mem­ber him hav­ing any dif­fi­cul­ties stand­ing up or sit­ting down while he was cross-ex­am­in­ing wit­nesses, nor hav­ing any prob­lems stand­ing dur­ing a visit to the scene of an ac­ci­dent, a trip which lasted be­tween 30 min­utes to an hour, dur­ing the trial.

Ms Hains said she re­called him ask­ing the judge if he could take breaks dur­ing pro­ceed­ings to take med­i­ca­tion, but said that she only saw him take such a break on one oc­ca­sion.

Rep­re­sent­ing Mr Blacker, Do­minic D’souza asked Ms Hains if she was aware that when he had asked for the break, it was so he could take mor­phine due to the level of pain he was in. The wit­ness said she was not aware of this.

The court also heard from a first-aid trainer, who led two cour­ses at­tended by Mr Blacker in 2009 and 2011.

Dur­ing the cour­ses he was re­quired to demon­strate CPR on a man­nequin and put a pa­tient into the re­cov­ery po­si­tion, both of which Mr Blacker was said to have com­pleted “with­out any trou­ble.”

Mr Blacker, of Milk Street, Rochdale, de­nies both charges against him.

The de­fence has yet to out­line its case.

Pro­ceed­ing

For­mer lawyer Alan Blacker de­nies mak­ing false state­ments in his ap­pli­ca­tion for dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.