Date of Judgment: 5 February 2021
Court: District Court of New South Wales
Partner Agency: Services Australia
Summary of charges:
The offender pleaded guilty to three offences of obtaining a financial advantage by deception contrary to section 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
The maximum penalty for each offence is 10 years imprisonment.
Between 17 December 2008 and 10 July 2017, the offender submitted five claims supported by six false documents to what is now Services Australia in support of applications for Carer Payment and Carer Allowance in relation to five persons purported to be in her care. The false documents included medical reports from various doctors who had never provided care to any of the people purported to be in the offender’s care as outlined in her claims.
As a result of the false information the offender repeatedly provided to Services Australia during the period of offending, payments of Carer Allowance and Carer Payment, to which the offender was not entitled, were made throughout the periods of 17 December 2008 to 8 July 2014 and 1 May 2017 to 10 July 2017. In total, the offender received $185,807.64 in payments to which she was not entitled over a period of 150 fortnights.
The Court found that the offender’s mental health issues had contributed to the offending, however, despite this and the moderation of general deterrence it still found that the offences were very serious and therefore immediate custody was the only appropriate sentence. As a consequence of the finding regarding the causal connection between the offender’s mental health and the offences, the period of actual custody was much shorter.
The Court afforded the offender a 25 per cent discount for her early plea of guilty at committal.
The offender was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of 25 months of imprisonment to be released after serving 10 months upon entering into a recognisance in the sum of $100 on condition that she be of good behaviour for 15 months. In addition, the Court ordered, pursuant to section 21B of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), reparation in the amount of $185,807.64. be made to the Commonwealth.