A dad who carried out a £1.5 million NHS scam by claiming he needed a wheelchair has been jailed after being snapped unloading a delivery van.
Darren Dommett, 49, claimed he could barely walk due to medical blunders and was totally dependent on others’ care.
But the dad-of-two was snapped lugging heavy flatpack furniture from a delivery van to his Grimsby home.
And pictures on social media showed him enjoying a holiday in Spain without the need of any mobility aids.
Dommett claimed compensation sayng NHS doctors’ delay in treating a nerve condition in his back had left him severely disabled.
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He admitted contempt of court and was jailed for 29 weeks by Judge Nigel Lickley QC at the High Court, last Friday.
He will also have to pay the NHS at least £85,000 in costs and repayment of wrongly paid compensation.
His barrister, Andrew Locke, told the judge the case had left Dommett, a fanatical Arsenal FC supporter, had been “ruined both financially and personally.”
The court heard Dommett had suffered a genuine compressed nerve condition in his back, called cauda equina syndrome, in 2013 and went to doctors.
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But A&E medics at the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, in Grimsby, failed to immediately spot the symptoms and it was days later that he was diagnosed and treated for the condition, which can leave sufferers paralysed if not treated quickly.
The Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability for the delay, but were suspicious of the size of Dommett’s claim, which was put at more than £1.5m.
Dommett claimed he was largely confined to a sedentary life in front of the TV.
In a filmed examination at his home, Dommett struggled to stand unaided and appeared to have great trouble walking or getting up stairs.
But NHS barrister James Todd QC told the judge the NHS had launched covert surveillance of the dad on several days in 2017.
The footage shows him unloading three packs of flatpack furniture from a delivery van, getting in and out of his Land Rover and going shopping with his wife.
“The defendant carries a stick in his left hand but walks with a normal gait,” said the barrister.
“For most of this period of surveillance, the defendant is either walking or standing…there is no sign of fatigue or a change in the defendant’s gait.”
Mr Todd said that, in actual fact, Mr Dommett had made a “good recovery” and by 2017 was “grossly exaggerating” or “fabricating” symptoms to boost his claim.
“He had absolutely no need for a wheelchair,” he said.
Dommett eventually pleaded guilty to contempt of court in making false statements to experts about his level of disability.
Mitigating on Dommett’s behalf, Mr Locke said: “It is common ground that Mr Dommett’s claim was initially a genuine one with genuine and very distressing injuries.
“The element of fabrication came later. Although there was a deliberate effort to mislead the experts and the courts, it was not sophisticated.”
Sentencing, Judge Lickley ruled that only an immediate term of imprisonment could be justified for the serious false statements made by Dommett in his claim.
He will also have to pay the NHS’ £65,000 costs of defending the original claim, and repay £20,000 in wrongly paid out compensation.
He may also have to stump up to cover the NHS’ five-figure costs of having him jailed, but the judge will rule on that issue at a later date.