The former lead singer of iconic rock band Iron Maiden was jailed today after he was exposed as a benefit cheat by posting his music videos – on YouTube.
Heavy metal legend Paul Andrews, 52 – known and idolised by millions worldwide as front man Paul Di’Anno – was sentenced to nine months for swindling £45,000 in benefits.
He was told he would serve at least four and a half months of the sentence behind bars before being released on conditional bail.
Andrews, of Salisbury, Wilts., was the energetic frontman of Iron Maiden when they took the world by storm and shot to fame between 1978 and 1981.
The bald, goatee-bearded star was fired by Maiden in 1981 under a cloud of drug-taking allegations he always denied.
Head-banging father-of-two Andrews claimed he suffered severe nerve damage to his back that prevented him from working.
But the rock God, whose former group Iron Maiden had huge hits including ‘Run to the Hills’ and ‘The Number of the Beast’, was still performing on stage and releasing records.
Andrews was caught when Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) investigators spotted a YouTube video of him jumping around on stage during a live show in 2006.
The footage, from his own website and video sharing site YouTube, showed Andrews energetically leaping around.
He admitted the eight counts of benefit fraud at Salisbury Crown Court on February 11.
The heavily tattooed rocker, wearing a grey suit and black shirt, admitted illegally claiming benefit totalling £45,479.
They included wrongly raking in income support of more than £10,000 between 2005 and 2008.
The rock’n’roller, whose autobiography – titled The Beast – bills him as the ”wildest man in rock”, even released fresh material while stashing benefits.
His solo album ‘The Living Dead’ came out in 2006.
He was eventually arrested last year at Heathrow and charged with fraud.
James Newton-Price, prosecuting, told the court Andrew claimed income support, housing benefit and council tax handouts despite touring all over the world between 2002 and 2008.
He said: ”There was no notification of work or trips abroad which the department told him he had to make.
”Instead his touring took him to Europe, India, Brazil, Canada, Russia, and Mexico.
”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.”
Steven Ritter, mitigating, said Andrews’ was very naive and that all he cared for was the welfare of his family, a wife and a son in America and a daughter in Venezuela.
Mr Ritter said: ”He was obsessed with music and performing. He is very naive in terms of business matters and has no formal education.
”He suffered severe injury when he jumped off stage as part of his act in 1998 but carried on performing with agents promising him next month would provide the next big drift of money he was looking for.
”He sought the money he was owed but lawyers and agents would take it, he got very little from all his touring.
”He has lost a fortune several times, his last $40,000 was given to a previous girlfriend in America.
”He wanted a comeback but he realised it was not like coming back and being Frank Sinatra.
”He had credibility, a loyal fan base across the world but it was a muddled state as to what he owned.
”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.”
Jane Miller QC, sentencing at Salisbury Crown Court today, said Andrews’ public image had nothing to do with the case and he would be treated like anybody else.
She said: ”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.
”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.
”I do not accept you only got expenses. I give you credit for your guilty pleas and reduce the sentence from the guideline 12 months to that of nine months.”
The fallen star, who walked to the hearing with the aid of a walking stick, said nothing as he was sentenced.
A confiscation hearing to settle payments the rocker owes to the DWP will be heard at the court on June 4.