Fraud of Robbie tribute artist

A BENEFIT cheat claimed thousands of pounds from the taxpayer while performing as a Robbie Williams tribute in Tenerife, a court heard.

The real Robbie Williams
The real Robbie Williams

James Crockett, who has a Facebook page under his stage name Andy James, appeared before Bradford Crown Court yesterday and admitted dishonestly claiming just under £8,500 in incapacity benefits in 2012 when he was in fact able to work in this country and abroad as a tribute act.

Crockett, 43, of Swadford Street, Skipton, pleaded guilty to failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions of a change in his circumstances and Emma Downing, prosecuting, told the court that the sentencing range for such similar offences was between a low-level community order and 26 weeks in custody. Miss Downing said Crockett had also performed as pop acts Michael Buble and Take That.

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Barrister Charlotte Worsley, for Crockett, confirmed that her client was now paying back the money at the rate of £40 a month and was no longer on benefits.

It is understood that Crockett was receiving incapacity benefits in relation to a serious back problem and Miss Worsley told the court that her client, who underwent surgery in 2000, had in effect made a “remarkable recovery” over the years. She said Crockett was now managing to keep himself relatively fit with the help of a strict diet, physiotherapy and exercise.

Miss Worsley submitted that Crockett would still not be able to do unpaid community work because of his health difficulties. She said his work as a tribute act was sporadic and her client feared that his conviction may make him unemployable.

Judge Durham Hall adjourned sentencing and Crockett’s bail was extended until his next hearing on November 13.