Former triathlete turned to fraud as health broke down

A FORMER triathlete has avoided jail despite falsely claiming more than £15,000 in benefits for almost three years.

Melvyn Bonner, 40, of Smith House, Brighouse, claimed incapacity benefit between July 2007 and March 2010 and a second charge between May 2010 and November 2010 – totalling £15,268.

Prosecutor Paul Milner told Calderdale Magistrates’ Court he had made a genuine claim in June 2007 after an accident at work.

Steven Welford, representing Bonner, said: “In 2007 he was a fit, healthy man who was running a business.”

Bonner was a regular competitor in triathalons, but after competing in one event in London, he was struck down with Weil’s disease after swimming in the Thames.

“He was admitted to hospital, into intensive care and his business suffered at the time and he went into bankruptcy.

“Despite having seen his business fall apart and his health suffer he managed to carry on working and obtained employment as a driver,” said Mr Welford Bonner was then involved in an accident at work which left him with crushing injuries to his arm and wrist.

He then began working as a driver for a firm who transport concert equipment for bands, a job which takes him across Europe.

“He then had detoriation in his mental state,” said Mr Welford.

“He offers no excuse for the offences,” he said.

Magistrates’ had warned tearful Bonner he could face custody for the offences but he was instead told to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £100.