A pensioner sentenced more than a year ago for a £59,000 benefits fraud now wants to change his plea to not guilty, a surprised judge was told yesterday.
Anthony Pritchard, 67, of Dalloway Estate, Thrupp , had admitted four offences of benefit fraud between August 2006 and April 2017 when he was overpaid a total of £59,211.25.
He was sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court in October 2018 to a suspended jail term but yesterday, at a Proceeds of Crime hearing where the State was seeking a confiscation order against him to claw back at least some of his ill gotten gains, Pritchard asked Judge Ian Lawrie QC if he could change his original pleas and deny the offences.
Judge Lawrie told Pritchard: “I’ve no powers to carry out such a request.”
The prosecutor, Ian Fenny, said: “This appears to be an attempt to delay this hearing as he is probably aware that Proceeds of Crime Act hearings have to be completed within two years. There is nothing this defendant can do to change his original plea. Any delay would have an impact on the timing in this case.
“Currently there are outstanding issues over his capital assets, which include a Harley Davidson motorbike and a Ducati motorcycle.”
Judge Lawrie told Pritchard: “Your advocate has the formality of dealing with the Court of Appeal if you still want to change your plea. Good luck with that.
“However, your proceeds of crime hearing will recommence at this court on February 5, 2020.”
Prichard received a nine month jail term suspended for 12 months from Judge Michael Cullum last year. He had claimed Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) after he said he was ‘virtually unable to walk’ but was photographed ‘sat astride’ a Harley Davison.
At an earlier Proceeds of Crime hearing, the court was told Pritchard’s assets could be in excess of £200,000 when the value of his property and vehicles is assessed – more than enough for him to repay the State in full.