Lead singer of Black Lace jailed for benefit fraud

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The lead singer of the band Black Lace has been jailed for six months after swindling more than £24,000 worth of disability benefits and other allowances while working as a performer.

A court heard Dene Michael, 59, lied to Leeds City Council and the Department of Work and Pensions that he was unable to walk, was constantly in pain and need a carer.

Throughout the two-year deception the Agadoo entertainer was the frontman with the Yorkshire-based pop band .

Angus MacDonald, prosecuting, described the role as requiring “vigorous physical activity.”

He appeared before Leeds Crown Court under his real name - Dene Michael Betteridge - alongside his wife, Karen, 52.

Betteridge pleaded guilty to five offences of benefit fraud, totalling £24,035. Karen Betteridge admitted one offence of benefit fraud, totalling £2,409.

Mr MacDonald said Betteridge made false claims for housing benefit, disability living allowance and employment support during the period of offending, between 2012 and 2014.

Karen Bettridge’s offence related to her claiming that she was the carer for her husband.

Betteridge claimed that he was unable to walk without a stick, had bladder problems and needed a mobility scooter to get around.

Leeds Crown Court heard that Betteridge earned £9,000 from Black Lace gigs during the period despite claiming he was unable to work.

Betteridge’s scam came to light following an anonymous tip-off to the DWP.

The court heard the couple have been together for four years and each have four grown up children.

Probation officer Malcolm Brown described Betteridge’s offending as “naive” as it was inevitable that he would eventually have been caught.

He said Betteridge did have a number of health problems but they were not as severe as he had made out when claiming benefits.

The court heard Betteridge now had a £10,000 a year job working for the council as a van driver for disabled people.

Betteridge’s barrister, Peter Byrne, said: “He is deeply ashamed of his conduct.”

Mr Byrne said his client had so far repaid £6,000 of the amount he wrongly claimed

The court heard Karen Betteridge worked in a supermarket and was also repaying the amount she had claimed.

Jailing Betteridge, judge Jacqueline Davies said: “It is not disputed that the fraud was persistent from the outset but not of a sophisticated manner.

“You would have inevitably have been discovered.”

“You were claiming a sum that was not insignificant at a time when you knew this country was, and still is, undergoing times of stress in terms of publicly-funded benefit.”

Karen Betteridge was made the subject of a 12-month community order and told to do 100 hours unpaid work.

Black Lace are best known for their hit song Agadoo and other party standards like Superman and Do The Conga.

Betteridge was not part of the original line-up, but joined in 1986.

In 2015 he appeared on the BBC TV talent show The Voice and has also appeared in the ITV legal show Judge Rinder.