Blackpool man claimed disability benefits while working as an Elvis impersonator

Credit: CPS

A man from Blackpool has been given a jail sentenced after he claimed disability benefits for two years - despite working as an Elvis impersonator.

Joseph Thompson, 62, from Park Road, pocketed more than £10,000 in benefits from 2016 to 2018.

He said that health problems, in particular musculoskeletal disease/spinal muscular atrophy, meant that he had limited mobility.

But in fact he was working as an Elvis impersonator, performed in a band called the Prime Mover and worked under the stage name of Joe Marcel.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) received information about his work as a performer and a criminal investigation was launched.

Thompson was arrested in March 2018 and initially denied dishonestly obtaining benefits to which he was not entitled.

He appeared at Preston Crown Court on 1 September 2021 where he pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.

The judge handed him a 20-week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, and an electronic curfew from 8pm to 6am Sunday to Thursday.

He is exempt from the curfew on Friday and Saturday nights so that he can continue to do some performances for charity.

 Senior Crown Prosecutor George Ward, of CPS Mersey Cheshire’s Fraud Unit, said: "Joseph Thompson exaggerated the extent to which his medical conditions affected his physical mobility and daily living so that he could supplement his income.

"He does have a degenerative muscle-wasting disease. But while he was claiming that he had poor physical mobility, he was working on stage as an Elvis impersonator. It would clearly be difficult to impersonate an artist like Elvis without being able to move around a lot on stage.

"The CPS said that he had cheated the Exchequer out of thousands of pounds and he has now accepted that and pleaded guilty.

"There are a lot of demands on the public purse, particularly at the moment, and people like Joseph Thompson cheat us all out of money that is badly needed elsewhere."