A benefits cheat said to have claimed he was ‘virtually unable to walk’ and needed help ‘getting in and out of bed’ was caught out playing bowls.

Prosecutors said John Larder, of Burnley Road, Huncoat, received £18,646 in disability living allowance over a five-year period after failing to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that he no longer needed ‘care and assistance with his basic needs’.

They claim he had declared that he could only walk a distance of eight yards before ‘the onset of severe discomfort’ and needed help getting dressed and undressed every day.

He also claimed he required assistance washing and bathing, going to the toilet and needed help ‘cutting up his meat seven days a week’, DWP prosecutors say.

Burnley Road Bowling Club in Accrington

Larder, 63, was rumbled after a surveillance operation by DWP investigators filmed him playing bowls matches at Burnley Road Bowling Club in Accrington, where he was also the greenkeeper.

He pleaded guilty to failing to notify the DWP of a change in circumstances affecting his entitlement to disability living allowance and was bailed for sentence at Burnley Crown Court on September 4.

The DWP said he had been claiming disability living allowance from January 2007 to July 2014, however the claims became fraudulent from August 2009 onwards.

It is claimed the benefits were paid automatically into Larder’s bank account, however he failed to disclose that his ‘mobility had improved’.

A DWP operation led by investigator Peter Litherland filmed Larder playing in bowls games at the bowling club where it is said he could be seen ‘walking backwards and forwards across the green for the duration of the matches which lasted 45 minutes to an hour’.

The footage shows him ‘repeatedly bending’ to pick up the bowls, ‘walking unaided’ at normal pace and not showing ‘any difficulties or discomfort’.

Larder was also seen operating a petrol driven lawn mower in his role as green keeper and playing bowls later the same day.

John Larder mowing the green at Burnley Road Bowling Club

Extra surveillance also captured Larder on ‘shopping trips with his wife’ including walking around the Aldi store in Accrington ‘pushing a trolley’.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Only a small minority of benefit claimants are dishonest, but cases like this show how we are rooting out the unscrupulous minority who are cheating the system and diverting taxpayers’ money.

“We are determined to find those we suspect of abusing the welfare system by following up on tip-offs, undertaking surveillance and working with local councils.

"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.

"If you suspect someone of fraudulently claiming benefits, then call our National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440."