A former soldier who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and won a triathlon while fraudulently claiming thousands of pounds in disability benefits has been jailed.

Mark Lloyd also competed in the Phoenix Winter Games and took part in the World Powerboat Championships in Malta while receiving Personal Independence Payments (PIP) from October 2014 to February 2016.

The 33-year-old told benefits assessors that he had severe restrictions to his mobility and ability to care for himself after suffering a back injury and post-traumatic stress disorder while serving in the Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan but was found to have overstated his needs.

After a trial at Merthyr Magistrates’ Court he was found guilty of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for himself.

The judge criticised Mark Lloyd for his "utter lies"  (Ben Birchall/PA)
The judge criticised Mark Lloyd for his “blatant lies”
(Ben Birchall/PA)

On Thursday, District Judge Martin Brown said the claims were “completely and utterly fanciful”.

Sentencing Lloyd, from Pontypridd, South Wales, to 20 weeks in prison, he said: “You have blatantly lied to this court throughout and I hope that you will reflect on that throughout your sentence.”

The court heard that the first form filled out by Lloyd, who denied the charge, for his claim was inaccurate and a later form was even more so.

He was paid £6,551.80 in benefits over a period when he climbed Africa’s highest peak over five days of walking between eight and 12 hours per day.

Judge Brown said Lloyd took part in a series of “gruelling” events while claiming the payments, for which he attracted publicity and “plaudits”.

“This was an offence committed in my view by an abuse of your position,” said the judge. “I don’t necessarily mean in taking the money from the benefits agency but you did attract attention (for the events) and were given plaudits … (you were) publicly proclaiming what you were doing not withstanding the fact that you had claims to the benefits agency that you could barely walk.”

James Harris, representing Lloyd, from Pontypridd, South Wales, said the conviction meant he was in breach of a suspended sentence imposed for an offence of violence, which the judge described as a “road rage” incident which “flies in the face of his so-called incapacity”.

The judge activated eight weeks of the previous suspended sentence but ordered that to be served concurrently to the 20 weeks. He also ordered Lloyd pay £620 in costs and £115 victim surcharge.

Laura Walters, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Mark Lloyd flouted the system to claim thousands of pounds of disability benefits, all the while taking part in tough physical challenges.

“Lloyd vastly overstated his care needs in order to claim the cash but he could not hide from the overwhelming evidence put forward by the prosecution, including photos of his participation in a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro and his participation in a triathlon.”