“Peter Beddoe, 49, was jailed after receiving the payments while winning the Mr Wales Over 40 contest”
“A musclebound bodybuilder claimed nearly £30k in disability benefits while winning a major championship.
Peter Beddoe, 49, was jailed after receiving the payments while taking the title in the Mr Wales Over 40 contest.
A court heard that Beddoe visited the gym every day and was a respected role model on the British bodybuilding scene.
He was being paid the higher rate of disability allowance meant for people who could not walk, Wales Online reports.
And he claimed he needed a walking stick, crutches or other means of support to be able to get around.
But Peter Beddoe was regularly seen on stage in his posing pouch, tanned and oiled up for competitions.
Prosecutor Stuart McLeese said: “All the time he was in receipt of the higher rate of mobility disability allowance on the basis that he was virtually unable to walk.
“But the investigation discovered Mr Beddoe was a known bodybuilder and was involved in competitive body building.
“He won the Mr Wales Over 40 title along with the South Coast championships in 2009.”
Department of Work and Pensions officials launched an investigation after two tip-offs that he was illegally claiming benefits while competing in amateur bodybuilding contests.
Their investigation discovered that in one year alone he made 340 visits to his gym where he used weights for his training sessions.
Mr McLeese said: “Between 2008 and 2013 he visited the gym more than 1,100 times.”
Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard Beddoe took up body building to build up the muscles around his spine after he was involved in an accident at the age of 30.
He legitimately claimed disability benefit at the time but failed to notify the department of working pensions that his condition had improved and he was being helped with pain management.
Lawrence Jones, defending, said: “Mr Beddoe has to accept that when his medication improved and pain management improved he should have let the benefits agency know.”
Beddoe, of Llwydcoed, Aberdare, admitted two charges of making dishonest representations to claim benefits and one of fraud between 2006 and 2013.
Judge Recorder Richard Booth jailed him for six months saying his “disgraceful” offences were so serious that only a prison sentence was suitable.
The judge told him: “Your claim for disability reads ‘I would injure myself without support. I need a frame or other means of support to be able to walk’.
“But you failed to disclose you were training as a bodybuilder and exercising over a long period.
“You were awarded a higher rate for those who are unable to walk but I see that you made 1,100 visits to the gym between 2008 and 2013.
“You also passed yourself off as a role model to other bodybuilders at the gyms where you trained.”
The court heard Beddoe – a former hairdresser before claiming benefits – had shown no remorse for his offences and had told investigators “everyone exaggerates their claims”.
Shaven-headed Beddoe, dressed in a pale blue shirt and black trousers, showed no emotion as he was lead from the dock.
Beddoe was a member of the JD gymnasium in Merthyr Tydfil and the Powerhouse gym in nearby Aberdare.
After the case Carolyn Davies, team fraud leader with the DWP said: “We were very surprised when we had two anonymous tip offs that a body builder was receiving disability benefits.
“He was very well known as a figure in the community where he lives – he was known and respected.
“It is our duty to ensure that benefit payments go to those who really need them and we are committed to cracking down on those who play the system.
“It’s unfair that some people get support when they do not have a disability, while many people depend on the benefits system to provide a safety net.
“Deliberately not informing us of a change in your condition that may affect your claim is a crime. Don’t wait for our fraud investigators to find you. Tell us of a change now.””