A businessman claimed more than ?50,000 in benefits despite driving a Rolls-Royce and living in a home where peacocks roamed the gardens, a court heard yesterday.

Terence Pendleton, 44, also treated himself and his family to expensive holidays in Florida and New York, and had bought into a timeshare apartment in Gran Canaria.

Despite telling officials that he was too ill to work, he ran a successful power tool business from a market stall.

He regularly climbed to the upper tiers of Anfield to make use of his Liverpool FC season ticket - a feat that would have been impossible had he been as ill as he claimed.

Pendleton told officials that he was reduced to living in a run-down bedsit in Toxteth, Liverpool, and had no option but to claim ?54,000 in income support, housing benefit and disability benefits. The reality, according to the prosecution at Liverpool Crown Court, was that he owned a ?500,000 home in Knowsley Village, with electric gates and peacocks in the garden. Pendleton did not pay council tax.

Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said Pendleton had told benefits staff that he could barely walk without using crutches and was unable to stand for more than five minutes. However, his alleged disability had not held him back from becoming "a main player" in the power tool business T & S Tools, based at New Smithfield Market, Manchester.

Investigators filmed him loading boxes and carrying a heavy trestle table over his head. Mr Slack said the businessman had "grossly exaggerated" his disability.

The court heard that, in 2003, Pendleton treated his girlfriend, Susan Kelly, and her two children to a ?2,500 holiday in Florida. The following year the couple enjoyed a trip to New York, taking in a helicopter flight.

Pendleton was arrested after investigators began secretly filming him. When they raided his bedsit last March, they found that it had not been inhabited for years. Pendleton had met rental payments on it out of money paid to him as housing benefits. The court heard that the businessman first applied for income support with Miss Kelly. Her high earnings meant that it did not succeed. However, the following year he applied as a single man living at his mother's home.

He claimed that he was separated from Miss Kelly and his application succeeded.

Mr Slack alleged that this claim became fraudulent in February 1996 when Pendleton moved into a house in West Derby, Liverpool, with Miss Kelly.

He accordingly rented the bedsit in Toxteth. Mr Slack said: "The only problem with the plan was that it would cost money to rent the bedsit. However, the prosecution say he solved this by making a fraudulent claim for housing benefit. He was also able to claim council tax benefit."

Pendleton denies 11 charges of false accounting and one charge of dishonestly failing to give prompt notification of a change of circumstances.

The trial continues.

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