A conman who pretended he couldn’t use his arms or legs for 15 years has been jailed.

Brian Matthews received more than half a million pounds in benefits and was accused of pretending to be quadriplegic, to care for disabled children, to care for a disabled wife in Southend and to have assumed the identities of dead people.

He admitted six counts of making a false representation and two counts of fraud by false representation over a 15 year period starting in 2001.

Another 19 charges will remain on file with Matthews jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Along with using fake identities and different addresses, in Southend, Chingford and Penzance, Matthews, 52, of Roscadghill Parc in Penzance fooled doctors with fake symptoms who gave him medical documents without examinations.

Jo Martin, prosecuting, said: “Matthews maintained for a long time he was quadriplegic.

“Over that time he was able to convince doctors and they did not properly test him because of trust.

“In recent years evidence Mr Matthews was capable of walking has emerged.

“In 2017 he has taken his wife Theresa into her doctors, her being pushed in a wheelchair with Mr Matthews being the one pushing her.

“Mr Matthews is, from the Crown’s position, incredibly manipulative.”

Ms Martin said on other occasions Matthews was visited by police and his mobility car was parked half a mile from his home and he didn’t have any walking aids with him.

Jim Tilbury, mitigating, said: “Mr Matthews accepts that he is not quadriplegic.

“He presently is unable to stand without aids, he accepts that hasn’t always been the case.”

A spokesman for the department for work and pensions said: “It is a good result. Benefit relief should go to those people that need them.

“The total cost to the public purse is £509,000, the indictment today carried a number of offences.

“There were documents provided that were false and some were provided by medical professionals where no examination was made.’’ Nobody else was implicated in the con.