Personal trainer was a benefits cheat

Sunday 26th June 2022 3:55 pm
Exterior view of the Isle of Man Courthouse in Douglas - (Isle of Man Newspapers )

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A 43-year-old personal trainer has been sentenced to 200 hours community service for a £17,000 benefit fraud.

Kelly-Ann McCulloch failed to declare that she was running a personal training business and that her husband was living with her.

In court she pleaded guilty to five counts of benefit fraud.

Prosecuting advocate Chrissie Hunt told the court that McCulloch was claiming income support benefit from September 2020, based on being a single parent.

However, anonymous information was later received that she owned a personal training company, Eleven Eleven Fitness, and that her husband was living with her.

Bank accounts were accessed which showed earnings from the personal training company and payments being made from her husband.

Only one bank account had been declared but there were three held.

Social media also showed her advertising personal training services and indicated that her and her husband were in a relationship.

Tax records also showed her husband as residing with her.

McCulloch’s home was put under surveillance between October 14, 2021, and October 28, 2021, and her partner was seen leaving the address every morning.

She was interviewed at Markwell House and confirmed that she knew she should declare any work and if a partner had moved in.

McCulloch, who lives at Arbory Road in Castletown, claimed that her husband stayed two or three times a month.

She said that she had started taking exercise classes in May 2021 but had read on the internet that if you were earning less than £30 per week it could be disregarded.

When quizzed about transfers from her husband she said that he was paying back a loan.

Eventually she admitted he had moved in and had been living with her between January 2021 and March 2021, and then from August 2021 onwards.

Failure to declare her change in circumstances had resulted in her being overpaid £17,948 which she was not entitled to.

The court heard that she has already voluntarily begun paying back the overpaid amount under an agreement with treasury, at a rate of £50 per week, deducted from benefits.

Defence advocate Kate Alexander asked the court to follow the recommendation of a probation report which suggested community service as the most appropriate sentence.

Ms Alexander said that there were details in the report relating to personal difficulties, which she would not go into in open court.

The advocate said that McCulloch’s benefit claim was not fraudulent from the outset and asked for credit to be given for her guilty pleas.

The court heard that she has no previous convictions.

Magistrates also ordered her to pay £50 prosecution costs within one month.

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