On 18 June 2018, 35-year-old Purdy McGee was given an effective sentence of 2 years' imprisonment in the Brisbane District Court, after pleading guilty to receiving $89,238.88 in Centrelink benefits to which she was not entitled.
Between January 2011 to January 2016, McGee lied to the Department of Human Services, claiming she was single when she was in a de facto relationship with Andrew Mitchell the entire time. Not only did she lie about this relationship and fail to disclose Mitchell’s income, over the five years and six months McGee fraudulently claimed benefits, she had three children with Mitchell.
This offending saw McGee receive $19,589.47 in Newstart Allowance and $66,123.82 in the Parenting Payment Single. In addition, McGee claimed she had undertaken study when she hadn’t, which saw her receive $3525.62 in the Pensioner Education Supplement.
McGee lied to Centrelink about her circumstances on a number of occasions in order to perpetuate the fraud, including claiming at one stage that she had separated from Mitchell and that he was living elsewhere, when in fact they were living together and held a joint lease on the property.
Following the birth of McGee’s twins, she lodged a further claim for her newborn children and claimed they were from a previous relationship and just spent time with Mitchell. Birth, Death & Marriage records show that Mitchell is the father of all three children.
During a search of McGee’s residence in Capalaba in July 2016, numerous documents and items were seized in support of the charges. In particular, various text messages referred to the relationship between McGee and Mitchell, referenced their sexual relationship and also their joint financial situation.
McGee’s offending was detected through the Welfare Taskforce budget initiative on 9 February 2016. This taskforce identifies and targets geographic areas where data analysis points to a high risk of non-compliance and suspected welfare fraud.
At the time McGee’s offending was detected, she was living in Caboolture, which was a demographic area that triggered a review.
On 18 June 2018, 35-year-old Purdy McGee was sentenced in the Brisbane District Court to 2 years' imprisonment with an order she be released after serving 4 months upon entering into a recognisance in the sum of $500 conditioned that she be of good behaviour for a period of 3 years., in relation to:
- 5 counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, contrary to section 134.2 (1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).
In sentencing, Judge Smith said imprisonment was the only appropriate penalty. He said there was significant evidence proving the offences and that they involved a significant amount of money over a long period of time.
His Honour made the observation that the money was not spent on a lavish lifestyle, and noted McGee’s good work history, that she appeared remorseful and that the situation with her young children was "very relevant" to the sentence.
However, he said a term of actual custody was warranted.