Published Mar 11, 2011Former Iron Maiden singer Paul "Di'Anno" Andrews is going to jail for nine months over benefit fraud. As reported last month, the performer, who fronted the English metal act from 1978 to 1981, was charged with defrauding the UK government of approximately £45,000 ($71,000 Canadian) between 2002 and 2008.
According to the Guardian, the singer claimed he had suffered physical injuries from leaping off stages, citing sciatica as a major problem, and thus couldn't maintain a steady job because of the pain he was in. Andrews collected income support, housing benefit and council tax handouts from the Department for Work and Pensions because of it. Unfortunately, a series of videos that were found on YouTube captured the singer performing all around the world.
"His touring took him to Europe, India, Brazil, Canada, Russia and Mexico," prosecutor James Newton-Price told the Salisbury crown court. "There is footage on YouTube of over 50 live performances between 2004 and 2007. He admitted in an interview at one of his concerts in 2005 that he was living in Brazil for a time and that he played to crowds of 10,000 people."
Andrews's lawyer Steve Ritter said that the singer, who admitted to eight counts of benefit fraud, took on these gigs in order to support his family: a wife and son in the U.S. and a daughter in Venezuela. The argument was that he would do anything to help out his family.
"He was obsessed with music and performing. He is very naive in terms of business matters and has no formal education," Ritter said. "He has fallen into a pit of mayhem and has lost practically everything. He does not care what happens to him, only his wife and children."
Judge Jane Miller was not sympathetic to Andrews alleged motivations behind crisscrossing the globe.
"Your public persona is not relevant. Your greed has cost this country a lot of money. The claims were for a long time and for a large cost. It must be a custodial sentence," she said. "In 2002 you started claiming benefits when it was quite clear you were already working. It took many years to track you down. In 2007 you performed at 69 venues, in 2006 you performed 67 times."
Another hearing to settle payments Andrews owes to the Department for Work and Pensions will be held in June.