Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions



63 year old pensioner, Denise Morrissey of Chasm Creek Tasmania pleaded guilty to a charge of theft after collecting fortnightly pension payments that were transferred into one of her late mother’s bank accounts. Mrs Morrissey dishonestly received a total of $193,679.14 in pension payments after her mother’s death.

Mrs Morrissey’s mother died on 21 February 2002. Prior to her death, the mother was receiving a war widow’s pension from the Department of Veterans’ Affair. Mrs Morrissey was her mother’s legal personal representative and was responsible for administering her mother’s estate upon her death. She failed to notify the Department of this and collected the fortnightly pension payments that were transferred into her mother’s bank account until the offending was detected nearly twelve years later.

Between the 7 March 2002 and the 9 December 2013 (the last payment prior to detection), Mrs Morrissey dishonestly appropriated $193, 679.14 in pension payments following her mother’s death.

The offending was detected as part of a review by the Department. Tasmanian Police then executed a search warrant on Mrs Morrissey’s house on 13 December 2013, at which time they seized the access card that had been used to make the withdrawals from her mother’s bank account. Mrs Morrissey participated in a recorded interview in which she made full admissions to the offending.

Remarks on sentence

“Crimes like this are easy to commit and can be difficult to detect. Over the years in question, Mrs Morrissey must have made several hundred withdrawals from her mother’s account knowing that she was breaking the law. Because of the amount of money involved, and the number of years that this offending continued, the only appropriate penalty is a substantial sentence of imprisonment”.


Mrs Morrissey was convicted and sentenced on 29 June 2015 in relation to:


  • One count of theft of commonwealth property contrary to s 131.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth)

Mrs Morrissey was sentenced to two years and four months’ imprisonment with effect from 17 June 2015, to be released after serving 14 months upon giving security without sureties by recognizance in the sum of $2, 000 to be of good behaviour for three years following release. A forfeiture order relating to $450 that was seized from Mrs Morrissey during the search was made, pursuant to s 48 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. A reparation order in the sum $193, 229.14 was also made pursuant to s 21B of the Crimes Act 1914.