Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Performance Artist Actor Continued Claiming Benefit While Working

De La Roche (R) & Inesa (L)

An actor and performance artist, who appears in Johnny Depp's latest film, continued claiming £7,500 in Pension Credit while secretly pocketing fees for roles and projects with his younger wife.

Barrington De La Roche, 70, who describes himself as an 'Independent Fine Art Professional' plays the role of 'Shakespeare' in 2014's 'London Fields', a thriller which also stars Billy Bob Thornton and Jason Isaacs.

He also appears in nineteenth century horror 'Blood Moon' - playing the role of 'Ahiga' - set for release in November and next year will be seen in horror short 'God Will Fall.'

De La Roche performs along with his 32 year-old wife Inesa Vaiciute as 'Dark Theatre' a conceptual art form which has exhibited in London, Vienna, Budapest and Berlin and includes mostly nude poses illustrating such themes as birth and death.

De La Roche, of Alma Road, Wandsworth pleaded guilty yesterday to failing to notify a change of circumstances to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) between April 5, 2009 and August 19, last year, namely that he and his wife were in gainful employment.

Prosecutor Miss Frances Lockhart told Wimbledon Magistrates Court

: "Mr. De La Roche claimed Pension Credit for his partner and himself for which he was not entitled because he failed to declare his circumstances.

"He and his partner were working as actors and extras and he also received housing benefit and council tax benefit during the period he and his wife were working and receiving earnings."

When De La Roche began the claim in February, 2008 he stated he was unemployed, but received work via six acting agencies, including 2020 Casting and Ugly Models Enterprises, which reported him to the DWP.

"Had he informed the DWP of his employers he would have received nil benefit or benefit at a reduced rate would have been payable."

The DWP overpaid De La Roche £7,521.96, which he is currently repaying at £23.50 per week.

He was interviewed in by the DWP in April last year, with a London Borough of Wandsworth investigator also attending.

"He admitted knowing he had to inform the DWP of any change in circumstances and said his earnings were always absorbed and that he wanted to earn enough to come off benefits, but this did not happen," explained Miss Lockhart.

His lawyer Miss Eloise Emanuel told the court: "Mr. De La Roche was not fraudulent from the outset and he is still entitled to Pension Credit at a reduced rate.

"This was not a sophisticated carrying out of the offence or involved sophisticated planning and Mr. and Mrs. De La Roche used their own bank accounts.

"This was a legitimate claim that became false due to his situation. He does not live an extravagant lifestyle and works with art installations and casting agencies.

"He does an awful lot of work for charity and describes himself as a recovering drug addict, even though he has been clean for twenty-nine years, and regularly goes to Narcotics Anonymous meetings to assist those recovering themselves and is due to go tomorrow to speak.

"He set up the LimbPower charity for amputees after his daughter lost a limb," added Miss Emanuel, explaining her client is also involved in an artists charity, which seeks to help those similarly disabled.

District Judge James Henderson conditionally discharged De La Roche for eighteen months and ordered him to pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

"I give you full credit for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity and for the fact it was an error rather than deliberate dishonesty," he told the first-time offender.

"You have reached the age of seventy without a criminal offence and you are paying back the money at a reasonable rate."

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