A WOMAN caught walking the Great Wall of China while claiming benefits for being barely able to move has been ordered to pay back every penny or face going to jail.
Dawn Pinchen was pictured on the 13,000 mile-long landmark while she was being paid handouts on the basis she was incapable of walking the length of a car, due to a spinal injury.
The law caught up with her after she posted the holiday snaps on social networking site Facebook.
She has now been forced to sell her house in order to repay the money she fraudulently claimed.
Newcastle Crown Court heard yesterday the 40-year-old made £39,209 in the benefits con, and has paid just over £1,000 back.
Judge Robert Adams said the rest of the cash she was fraudulently paid must be given back within six months.
The judge warned: “There will be a period of 18 months in custody if payment is not made within six months.”
The court heard she has been forced to sell her home to pay back what she fraudulently claimed. Pinchen will have £88,388 in assets once the sale of her home goes through, and it is from that she will pay back the remaining £38,074 she owes.
Pinchen, of Primrose Close, Annitsford in Northumberland, was legitimately claiming benefits from 1994.
Then during periods between December 2007 and January 2013, when Pinchen’s circumstances changed, she fraudulently claimed a total of £35,601.
Fraud investigation officers had begun observing Pinchen’s movements and she was soon spotted strolling into and out of her local shopping centre with no aid.
In early 2010, Pinchen’s husband earned a large amount of money selling websites and then transferred the income into her bank account.
As a result, in 2011, the couple had the money available to travel 5,000 miles for a 10-day sight-seeing holiday in China.
Pinchen then posted photos from the holiday on Facebook, including a snap of her on the Great Wall of China, handing investigators further crucial evidence to suggest she was physically and financially more stable than she claimed.
Alec Burns, prosecuting, told the court: “On the social media website, Facebook, Mrs Pinchen posted photos of her and her husband on holiday in China.
“There was a photo of her on the Great Wall of China.
“She had also been observed walking from her car into Manors Walk shopping centre in Cramlington, and walking from her car into and out of her local Asda supermarket with a trolley.
“On all occasions, she did this with no aid at all. There was no sign of a walking stick or frame.”
Pinchen pleaded guilty to three counts of failure to notify in change of circumstances.
She had been paying £18.25 per week for over a year to help pay back what she owed.
Pinchen was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work.