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Graham and April Totterdell jailed after claiming marathon runner was 'frail old man'

By Paul Hooper

A Dover couple scammed more than £38,000 in disability benefits - even though they had huge savings and owned two houses.

Now Graham and April Totterdell have both been jailed for the "breath-taking rip off".

The two sat in the dock at Canterbury Crown Court refusing to look at each other, as the judge branded them as greedy.

April and Graham Totterdell
April and Graham Totterdell

April Totterdell, a 48-year-old mother of two, was told she was “a liar of epic proportions” after trying to blame her husband for bullying her into taking part in the fraud.

But the judge said that she had willingly connived with her marathon-running husband Graham to fake a disability and then pocket the cash.

Mr Totterdell, now 72, had been awarded the highest rate Disability Living Allowance after the couple claimed he could barely walk and “was a frail old man”.

The jury heard how Mrs Totterdell had signed benefit application forms telling how he needed a zimmer frame, a stick and crutches because of two injuries.

She had even written in one appeal for more money that her husband was so doddery she had to put toothpaste on his brush.

And even after they had been exposed as fraudsters, Mr Totterdell played the role of “barrister” to prepare his wife for a quizzing from DWP investigators.

Judge James O’Mahony said they had shown “a breath-taking piece of hypocrisy” in their “brazen deception” and jailed April for 18 months for fraud and Graham, who admitted the fraud at an earlier hearing, 14 months.

And he warned the crooked pair they now face proceedings under the Proceeds Of Crime Act to get the £38,000 back - plus a “hefty” legal bill for the trials.

Prosecutor Ian Foinette said the truth was that Mr Totterdell, of Glenfield Road, Dover, competed in runs in Ashford, Charing, Littlestone, Hamstreet, Paddock Wood, Folkestone, Deal, Lydd, and the London Marathon twice.

April and Graham Totterdell
April and Graham Totterdell

He had even used the name Graham King – the surname is Mrs Totterdell’s maiden name – when participating in some of the marathons.

Mrs Totterdell, of Corton Crescent, Dover, had that between September 2009 and May 2015 she assisted her husband in defrauding the Dept of Works and Pensions of £38,491.60.

Prosecutor Ian Foinette revealed that Mr Totterdell’s claim of incapacity “was simply not true” – even though he had an accident in the past.

“Undoubtedly, he was injured but what he was claiming for was considerably more than that, “ he said.

The prosecutor said Mrs Totterdell knew “full well” that his claims of that level of injury was “simply not the case”.

“While he was claiming benefit and for a large portion of the time he was actually competing in half marathons and the London Marathon.

“And at the same time he was suggesting to the DWP, with the assistance of Mrs Totterdell, that he was so incapacitated that he could barely move.”

Mr Foinette said that Mr Totterdell was secretly filmed walking across the road and crawling underneath cars while servicing his car.

"This case demonstrates in sharp focus that you are devious, manipulative, greedy for other people's money - even when you had plenty of your own, and a liar of epic proportions" - Judge O'Mahony, to Mrs Totterdell

The benefits were paid into Mrs Totterdell’s bank account after she claimed he was “70 per cent disabled in the lower back” with injuries to both shoulders.

Mr Foinette said he began competing in runs in September 2009 while being described in various documents “as a frail old man who could hardly get out of an armchair to move from one side of the room to the other without using a zimmerframe and sticks”.

Judge O'Mahony told her: "This case demonstrates in sharp focus that you are devious, manipulative, greedy for other people's money - even when you had plenty of your own, and a liar of epic proportions."

He then read from her application form that she had to wash her husband's face, put toothpaste on a brush, help him shower and cut his hair and nails.

"Pure lies..he was running around the country running marathons!”

The former Merchant sailor Totterdell, who was living in Minnis Lane, River was jailed for 20 months after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice and harassment.

His wife received a 16 month sentence after admitting the perverting charge. They were each ordered to pay their victim £1500 compensation.

Prosecutor Vivian Walters told how the bullying campaign began in September 2014 over a concrete fence the Totterdells put up.

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