Accrington benefits cheat claimed thousands whilst working as waitress at Turf Moor

This Is Lancashire: Margaret Gail Grundy Margaret Gail Grundy

A 59-YEAR-OLD benefits cheat worked as a waitress and a chamber maid while fraudulently claiming almost £12,000 in disability living allowance.

Margaret Gail Grundy worked 12 hour shifts as a waitress at Burnley’s Turf Moor ground and was also seen carrying bags of linen up stairs at Northcote Manor in Langho, where she worked as a housekeeping assistant, a court heard.

But in her declaration to the Department of Work and Pensions, Grundy said she was virtually unable to walk and if she went out needed a wheelchair and had to be accompanied.

Grundy, of Avenue Parade, Accrington, pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify an improvement in her mobility which would affect her entitlement to benefits when she appeared before Blackburn Magistrates’ Court.

She was made subject to community supervision for 18 months with a requirement she completes a 15-day Womens’ Specific Activity Requirement. She was also ordered to pay £145 costs.

Philippa White, prosecuting, said there was a total overpayment of £11,723 between October 2008 and March 2013.

As well as working at Burnley Football Club, Grundy also worked at Northcote At The Rovers, the catering arm of Northcote Manor which provides hospitality at Ewood Park.

At one stage, she was a member of staff at Clayton Park Conference Centre.

Mrs White said: “She actually worked at Burnley between October 2008 and August 2011. The head of catering provided a statement saying the defendant had worked 12-hour shifts and was on her feet for the majority of that time. She never saw a stick or a wheelchair.”

At Northcote Manor, Grundy cleaned rooms, requiring her to move furniture, and had been seen carrying bags of linen and vacuum cleaners.

Andrew Church-Taylor, defending, said his client was a lady of previous good character and the overpayment was already being repaid. He said when Grundy initially made the claim it was genuine.

She had started a catering NVQ at Accrington and Rossendale College and in conjunction with that had started working at Turf Moor on match days and at Clayton Park.

Mr Church-Taylor said throughout the period, Grundy had been taking pain killers at a far greater level than she should have done.

Speaking after the hearing, a spokesman for Burnley Football Club said: “Burnley Football Club had no prior knowledge of this person claiming benefits while employed at Turf Moor and we have been working with the relevant authorities to help in their investigation when this claim came to court.”

Jane Wilkinson, head of human resources at Northcote Leisure Group, said: “We have fully co-operated with this matter and provided evidence where requested for the investigation.”

When the Lancashire Telegraph visited Grundy, who was walking with a stick, at her home, she declined to comment yesterday ((THURS)).

A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “This case shows how hard our investigators are working to catch criminals who defraud the system and make sure they are brought to justice.

“Working while claiming is the most common benefit fraud and we are committed to stopping it.

“Benefit thieves are costing the taxpayer almost £1billion per year. This money is intended to help those most in need, not line the pockets of criminals.

“We will continue to tackle this problem at the frontline but also at the root by reforming the benefits system to make it less open to abuse."

Anybody with information about benefit fraud, should call 0800 854440.

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