Tagadoo! - Black Lace benefit cheat released early from prison

Dene Michael Betteridge.
Dene Michael Betteridge.

Benefits cheat singer Dene Michael is set to be released from prison on tag today - less than two months after he was jailed for swindling more than £24,000 in disability allowances.

The Black Lace frontman was handed a six month prison sentence on June 27 this year after pleading guilty to five offences of benefit fraud.

A court heard that he will today be allowed to return to his home on an electronically monitored tag for the rest of his sentence.

Details of the early release were revealed when then singer’s case returned to Leeds Crown Court for a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act to determine how much of the illegally obtained sum he will have to re-pay.

The Agadoo singer appeared in court on a screen via a video link from Armley jail under his real name Dene Michael Betteridge.

During the brief hearing, Betteridge’s lawyer Keith Allen asked for the case to be adjourned for three weeks to allow for further time to calculate the figure he should re-pay.

Mr Allen said his client was due to be released from prison today.

Recorder Richard Woolfall asked the singer: “You are going home today then?” Betteridge replied: “Yes I’m supposed to be going home on a tag today.”

Recorder Woolfall agreed to adjourn the case and told Betteridge: “Next time you will have to get here under your own steam.”

Betteridge then said he had so far re-paid £6,000 before the hearing was adjourned.

At his sentencing hearing six weeks ago, the court heard Betteridge, 59, lied to Leeds City Council and the Department of Work and Pensions that he was unable to walk, was constantly in pain and need a carer.

Throughout the two-year deception, the entertainer was the frontman with the Yorkshire-based pop band.

He appeared in the dock alongside his wife, Karen, 52. Betteridge pleaded guilty to five offences of benefit fraud, totalling £24,035.

Karen Betteridge admitted one offence of benefit fraud, totalling £2,409. He made false claims for housing benefit, disability living allowance and employment support between 2012 and 2014. Karen Betteridge’s offence related to her claiming that she was the carer for her husband.

Betteridge claimed that he was unable to walk without a stick, had bladder problems and needed a mobility scooter to get around. Betteridge earned £9,000 from Black Lace gigs during the period of offending despite claiming he was unable to work.

The court was told Betteridge had got a £10,000 a year job working as a council van driver for disabled people.

Betteridge’s barrister, Peter Byrne, said: “He is deeply ashamed of his conduct.” The court heard Karen Betteridge worked in a supermarket and was also repaying the amount she had claimed.

Jailing Betteridge, judge Jacqueline Davies said: “You were claiming a sum that was not insignificant at a time when you knew this country was, and still is, undergoing times of stress in terms of publicly-funded benefit.”

Karen Betteridge was made the subject of a 12-month community order and told to do 100 hours of unpaid work.

Black Lace are best known for their hit song Agadoo and other party standards including Superman and Do The Conga.

Betteridge was not part of the original line-up, but joined in 1986.

In 2015, he appeared on the BBC TV talent series, The Voice, and has also appeared on the ITV legal show Judge.