The frontman of the 80’s ‘one-hit wonder’ pop group Black Lace who fraudulently claimed around £25k in benefits said he could only watch TV because of health problems – despite performing “vigorous physical activity” on stage.
Agadoo singer Dene Michael Betteridge, 59, claimed he used sticks to get around because of his sciatica – but he shook the proverbial tree and earned cash by gigging up and down the UK.
Leeds Crown Court, West Yorks., heard today (Mon) how Betteridge claimed £24,075 over a two year period between November 2012 and March 2014.
But, following his admissions to the authorities, Leeds City Council still employed him to ferry disabled children around the city by driving a van and earned £10,000.
Betteridge was joined in the dock by his wife Karen Betteridge, 54, who faces the same charge after she had claimed to be the singer’s carer – and raked in £2,409.
Prosecutor Angus Macdonald told the court: “The defendant was the lead singer and front man of the pop or rock band Black Lace.
“And the evidence says this role required vigorous physical activity.
“Despite that, the defendant over an 18 month and two years undertook fraudulent claims.
“He filled out forms claiming that he needed sticks to walk after suffering from pain and could not do anything except watch television – and he said that he needed a carer.
“On November 23, 2012 the defendant claimed disability allowance which was accepted.
“This is despite playing two gigs in-between that date – on November 20 and November 27.”
Defending Mr Betteridge, Peter Burn said: “Mr Betteridge has been naive and says his time in the band Black Lace is part of his charity work.
“But because of the media coverage of this case – he has stopped getting bookings for his band and has been suspended from his driving job pending the outcome of this case.”
Speaking about Mr Betteridge’s job driving for the council, Mr Burn said: “He has been driving a van for Leeds City Council to transport disabled children and earns around £10,000 for doing that.”
A probation report stated that even though the singer has had a 25 year stint with the band – Mr Betteridge does have health problems including asthma, mobility problems and sciatica.
Richard Holland, mitigating on belhalf of Mrs Betteridge, a supermarket worker, said that the grandmother had already paid back a quantity of the cash.
Mr Holland said: “She knows what she has done and has been naive.
“However, noticing her wrong doing has already started paying back the money at £50-a-month and leaves a balance of £1,859.”
Mr and Mrs Betteridge, who have eight children between them, jointly admitted benefit fraud at Leeds Magistrates’ Court at an earlier hearing.
Betteridge claimed £11,579.66 in Disability Living Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance and £13,667 in Council Tax and Housing Benefit.
Mr Betteridge, who was sporting a large grey beard, was dressed in a sharp black suit and blue tie as he pulled along a travel bag into court.
He was accompanied into court by members of the family, including his son.
A Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson said: “Only a small minority of benefit claimants try to cheat the system, but cases like this show how we are rooting out fraudsters who are stealing money from taxpayers and diverting resources away from those who really need it.”
Both Dene and Karen Betteridge will be sentenced later today (Mon).
Leeds City Council has been contacted for comment.