Sutton on Sea woman who ‘could only walk ten yards’ was working as a children’s entertainer

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A former Sutton on Sea woman who told authorities she ‘could only walk ten yards’ due to arthritis was working as a children’s entertainer, a court has heard.

Caroline Hartshorn, now of Albany Way in Skegness, was overpaid by £5,140.35 in Disability Living Allowance between December 2010 and August 2012.

She pleaded guilty to failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions of the changes to her circumstances at Skegness Magistrates Court on May 15.

The court heard Hartshorn, 38, was born with arthritis and began to claim for her condition in August 1992 with a care element added from 1995.

In 2009 Hartshorn filled in a self-assessment form on which said she could only walk ten yards at a time and needed personal care.

In May 2011 an anonymous allegation was made against Hartshorn which led to a six-week surveillance exercise by authorities which found evidence which contradicted her self-assessment after she had lost weight and undergone an operation.

“She was in fact working as a manageress in a local market,” said Paul Wood, prosecuting.

Mr Wood said Hartshorn also worked as a children’s entertainer at The Tavern on Mablethorpe Chalet Park in the summer of 2011 and spring of 2012, a caravan sales assistant between April and June 2011 and also as a care assistant.

Dave Clapham, defending, said: “She was born with a condition of arthritis in her joints, a knee operation did alleviate some of the problems with that but there was a part where she could do nothing at all.

“Whilst she could perhaps get about a little there wasn’t a diminishment in the pain.”

Mr Clapham said Hartshorn had ‘some days better than others’ and said she accepted that she hadn’t notified the DWP that she had had the operation.

“It’s not dishonesty from the start, all of this work has been very short term,” he said.

“She should have notified the authorities, in fact she believed she had. The businesses she does run are from home.”

Mr Clapham said Hartshorn had no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to the charge at the first opportunity.

The magistrates gave her a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered her to pay £100 in costs.

“If you commit another offence in the next 12 months you will be punished for this offence as well as the new offence,” they told her.