A rider who took part in affiliated eventing while claiming her bad back prevented her from doing her job as a senior manager for the NHS has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Elise David, 33, of Nottage, Bridgend county, was on prolonged absence from her £49,000 job, in a surgical materials testing laboratory, in summer 2016, having claimed she had injured her back in a riding fall.
But a year later, it was found she had been competing in British Eventing (BE) BE80, BE90 and BE100 classes while she was on sick leave, a period in which she was paid at least £10,000 of her salary.
She had claimed she struggled to walk, but was pictured taking part in competitions during the time, while her BE record shows results from the relevant period.
She told the court she felt unable to work, and did not tell her employers about the riding as she did not want to worry them.
After a trial at Newport Crown Court, David was found guilty of one count of fraud. She was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 180 hours’ community service, and pay £7,616.71 salary costs and £600 investigation costs to the Velindre NHS Trust.
Judge Daniel Williams said she had been “calculated, deliberate and dishonest” in claiming the sick pay.
David had told the court she took medical advice to do “gentle exercise” as a green light to ride. Witnesses said that she walked with a “timid” gait, and with a stick, at examinations determining whether she was fit to work, days after she had been competing.
“That was quite a contrast to the photographs I saw of you towering over jumps on your horse,” the judge said.
Lead investigator Nigel Price, of the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said that for a year, “Elise David thought she had got away with it”.
“But like others before her who have tried, unsuccessfully, to defraud the NHS, she was wrong,” he said.
“For three months in 2016 she fraudulently claimed a bad back was preventing her doing her job as a senior manager in a surgical materials testing laboratory, while she focused on developing her amateur [eventing] career.
“A year after that period of sickness, her true activities were discovered. This resulted in a widely publicised criminal conviction, and great damage to her career.
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“NHS counter fraud services will take all allegations of fraud seriously and, wherever appropriate, investigate and seek prosecution of offenders and to recover the money.”
Anyone who suspects a fraud is being committed against the NHS in Wales or England can anonymously report it on the NHS Fraud and Corruption Reporting Line by telephone 0800 028 4060 or online.
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