Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rock and Dole; MONEYWHILE GRABBING CLUB CROONER'S Pounds 11,000 FALSE CLAIMS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rock and Dole; MONEYWHILE GRABBING CLUB CROONER'S Pounds 11,000 FALSE CLAIMS

Article excerpt

Byline: SOPHIE DOUGHTY

belting out the hits, pub rocker Rick Page proved he had a powerful set of lungs.

But even as the musician was pocketing his share of pounds 200-a-night fee as part of North East rock duo Bitter Sweet, he claimed to be suffering from a crippling chest condition that left him unable to work.

After teaming-up with his singing partner, Page advertised Bitter Sweet as a must-see singing duo, available to perform live at pubs, clubs and charity events.

But at the same time he told the authorities he was too ill to work and continued to claim in incapacity benefits by day, while taking to the stage at night.

Today though the long-haired crooner is signing the blues after his powerful voice led to his cheating ways being exposed.

And Page was almost forced to swap his rock ballads for Jailhouse Rock, after benefits investigators caught up with him.

The 60-year-old former school caretaker began pocketing incapacity payouts after claiming he had a chest condition so bad even a short walk left him breathless.

And the tattooed singer was also claiming housing benefit and council tax relief while keeping quiet about wife Vera's job in a school kitchen.

But his life as a rock singer eventually made his private deception public.

And by the time his singing put investigators on his tail, he had plundered just over pounds 11,000 - so much that a judge at Newcastle Crown Court considered sending him to jail.

"You behaved in a shockingly dishonest way," Mr Recorder Prosser told him. "You saw an opportunity to line your own pockets.

"I have considered very seriously in view of the fact the claims were dishonest from the outset whether, notwithstanding you health and age, you ought to go straight to prison."

But Page, of Whitebeam Place, Elswick, Newcastle, was given a 26-week jail term suspended for two years after admitting five charges of benefit fraud.

"I am just persuaded," Recorder Prosser said. …

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