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April Totterdell from Dover denies helping marathon runner husband Graham fraudulently claim disability benefits

By Paul Hooper

A Dover woman and her husband cheated taxpayers out of more than £38,000 in benefits by lying about his health, it has been alleged.

Graham Totterdell was awarded the highest rate Disability Allowance after the couple claimed he could barely walk and “was a frail old man”.

His wife April, 48, signed benefit forms telling how he needed a zimmerframe, a stick and crutches because of two injuries.

April and Graham Totterdell
April and Graham Totterdell

But a jury at Canterbury Crown Court heard how Graham Totterdell competed in runs in Ashford, Charing, Littlestone, Hamstreet, Paddock Wood, Folkestone, Deal, Lydd - and the London Marathon twice.

On some of the runs he used the name Graham King – the surname is Mrs Totterdell’s maiden name, he alleged.

Mr Totterdell pleaded guilty to fraud at an earlier hearing but his wife, of Minnis Lane, Dover has now gone on trial after denying the same charge of defrauding the Department of Work and Pensions of £38,491.60 between September 2009 and May 2015.

Prosecutor Ian Foinette told Canterbury Crown Court: “The Crown says that this defendant, together with her husband Graham, were involved in extracting money from the DWP.

“Mr Totterdell, her former husband, has admitted the fraud but this defendant is now claiming she was acting under duress throughout this period.

April and Graham Totterdell
April and Graham Totterdell

“She says she was so abused, so threatened by him that she had no alternative but to assist in taking a leading role in taking money to which they were not entitled."

He revealed that Mr Totterdell's claim of incapacity "was simply not true" – even though he had suffered an accident in the past.

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

The prosecutor alleged that 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," he said.

The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court
The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court

“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 filmed walking across the road and crawling underneath cars while servicing his car.

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”.

The trial continues.

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