THE barrister defending an NHS manager accused of swindling her employer out four months' sick pay for chronic back pain while competing at showjumping events has suggested she would she would not put her £50,000-a-year job at risk.

Elise David, 33, claimed she was in too much pain to work – but was allegedly caught on camera showjumping at Chepstow and Monmouth and in the West Country.

Newport Crown Court heard how the defendant went off on the sick from her NHS testing laboratory with back injuries and "cognitive deficiencies" after falling off her horse.

Nigel Fryer, prosecuting, said: "She was off work for the next four months but at that time she was taking part in dressage, cross country and showjumping competitions.”

But her defence barrister, Heath Edwards, said to the jury in his closing speech: “She worked hard to forge her career. Why would she throw it into jeopardy for a few months off work at her employer’s expense?”

He added: “There were times when she was able to do what she loved for a short period of time – for 15 minutes once a month … it doesn’t mean she was fit enough to return to work.”

After telling them that this case “wasn’t as simple as it first appears”, Mr Edwards urged the jury to acquit his client.

In his concluding address to the jury, Mr Fryer said David had been engaged in a “charade” and labelled her “this miracle on horseback”.

He told them: “She is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.”

The court heard that David underwent medical examinations "only a matter of days" after she was found to be competing at equestrian events.

Witnesses claimed Ms David appeared to “shuffle” and said “her gait was timid” and walked with a stick at the occupational health examinations which determined whether she was fit to work.

The defendant had contacted her employers in June 2016 at the Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory, based at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, where she worked as quality manager, to say she had "injured her back and was struggling to walk".

Mr Fryer said: "She called in on September 6 that year and stated she was still having difficulty walking and could not drive."

But the court heard that at the same time she was taking part in showjumping events on her seven-year-old gelding called Caereau Freeway.

A jury heard she had ridden the horse at the two events in Monmouthshire and two in the West Country at the time she claimed she had the chronic back pain.

The court also heard how David did not reveal her showjumping events before having a phased return to work in October 2016. She resigned in April 2017.

David, of Nottage, Porthcawl, denies committing fraud between July and October 2016.

The jury heard how her colleague Jess Bodman, an IT analyst at the NHS labs, later discovered her name on the British Eventing website.

Mr Fryer said it displayed results for 2016 at the time she was off sick – showing she took part in events in Chepstow and Calmsden, Wiltshire, in July 2016.

It also revealed that she then competed in Monmouth, South Wales, and Trowbridge, West Wiltshire, in September – at the same time she was getting sick pay.

NHS fraud investigators uncovered registration for several events during her sick leave under the name Anne Davies with details matching the defendant’s home and email addresses.

At an interview with NHS fraud investigators, David insisted that the registration under the name Anne Davies was not her and was a “good friend”.

However, the court heard she later admitted that it was herself.

When shown images which investigators believed to be of her at events in Chepstow, Monmouth and Carmsden, David refused to confirm that she was the rider pictured.

She said: “To be honest, these days people Photoshop everything. I can’t be sure.”

She even denied owning the horse, registered as Caerau Freeway, but later let slip that it did in fact belong to her.

Her GP Doctor Anna Thomas confirmed that it was her “professional opinion” that David was unfit for work and for horse riding.

She said: “If I told her to get back on her horse it would have been a comment for the future because she was not fit enough at that point.

“I gave her a sick note because she was not fit to return to work.”

The jury in the trial before Judge Daniel Williams is due to retire today.