The Mail reports that this week at Southwark Crown Court, a self-styled ‘baronet’ was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, and guilty of the further charge of dishonestly obtaining disability benefits.
Barry Brooks, a 49-year-old company director from Bromley in London, who insisted everyone called him ‘Sir’ Barry, claimed benefits after saying he had been in a car crash in March 1993.
He said that he was unable to walk unaided or lift anything heavier than a sandwich, according to the Daily Mail.
Yet at the same time he enjoyed an extravagant and active lifestyle, including foreign scuba-diving holidays and riding a Harley Davidson motorbike. It now appears he used his exaggerated disability as a means of affording his luxuries.
The fraud involved the Access to Work programme, which is funded by the Department of Work and Pensions and aims to help disabled people who are moving back into employment. The court heard that Brooks filed bogus claims through his company, Access Audit Corporation.
The business set up with partner and co-defendant 55-year-old Derek Arnold, ostensibly to provide training and advice services to disabled people. Arnold was also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.
Monthly claims were submitted by the pair for Brooks and also on behalf of made-up ‘disabled clients’, for items such as travel, support staff, and office equipment, supposedly to help them with their new jobs.
However, Brooks then siphoned off the grants he received into his own bank accounts.
Officers from Welfare, Health and Rural Prosecutions at the CPS secretly filmed Brooks for six months between September 2009 and March 2010, as part of their investigation.
The court heard from Dr Michael Gross, a consultant neurologist expert witness for the prosecution. He said that, in his opinion, Brooks was: “elaborating his circumstances to convince or deceive, otherwise known in medical terms as malingering.”
The court heard prosecutor Andrew Marshall turn to Brooks, who spent the trial seated in a wheelchair, and say: “Arise Sir Barry”.
Similarly, Judge Martin Beddoe told Brooks he was expected to be standing when his sentence is passed.