A YORK guesthouse boss who claimed he was “utterly unable to walk” has been jailed for benefit fraud - after an undercover operation spotted him going for two-mile walks with his dogs.

Michael Colin Brown claimed disability living allowance from August 1995 on the grounds he was “utterly unable to walk and required day and night attention”, said Howard Shaw, prosecuting.

But undercover surveillance recorded him doing the shopping at a supermarket and local shops, carrying loads, coming and going from his guesthouse, the Dairy Guest House in Scarcroft Road, driving a car and going for two-mile walks with his dogs, all without assistance or walking aids.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is now seeking to make Brown, 57, repay more than £40,000 it says he should not have received between January 2014 and July 2019, said the barrister.

It was his second conviction for benefit fraud – in 2015 he was convicted of benefit fraud involving disability living allowance and given a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Brown, who lives at his guesthouse, pleaded guilty to a £11,468 benefit fraud on the basis that from January 2018 his medical condition had improved to the extent that his claim became dishonest. He had previously denied any benefit fraud.

Jailing him for five months, Judge Simon Hickey said: “It must be immediate custody to send out the message the state will not be defrauded in this way.”

For Brown, Andrew Petterson said about the 2015 conviction the fraudster had “accrued savings whilst in receipt of various benefits from the state” and had not declared them.

Jailing him in 2021 would impact on his guesthouse business, which was starting to recover from the pandemic and had bookings from May to July. He employed two staff members.

Brown had started to repay the DWP at £200 a month and had waited since February to be sentenced because of lack of court time, the court heard.