'Intelligent' inmate steals $54,000 lodging false tax claims
RODNEY Knight saw an opportunity to provide for his children.
The big problem was he did it by committing fraud from his prison cell.
The 40-year-old ordered his ex-girlfriend to file tax returns using other prisoners' names, and received back $54,000.
When Knight had the funds transferred to his and his ex-girlfriend's accounts he "ordered" her to buy laptops and other luxury items for his teenage children and their mother.
Judge Brad Farr yesterday described the man's nine-month fraud spree, from the comfort of his Maryborough prison cell bed, as "planned and systematic" but not "sophisticated".
Knight, 40, pleaded guilty in Rockhampton District Court to six counts of procuring another person to obtain a financial advantage by a deception and two counts of procuring another person to attempt to obtain a financial advantage by a deception.
The court heard Knight started making returns under his own, and other prisoners', tax file number in 2009, about 14-months into his sentence for another matter.
Knight then ordered his ex-girlfriend to file eight tax return claims to the Australian Tax Authority worth more than $72,000.
Six of those claims were paid out to Knight's and his girlfriend's bank accounts.
From there Knight ordered his ex-girlfriend to pay off personal debts, buy luxury items, including an engagement ring, and give money to others he knew.
Commonwealth prosecutor Alex Thomas told the court Knight's ex-girlfriend chose to follow his instruction because she was scared of him.
"He was known to be violent," Ms Thomas told the court.
The ex-girlfriend admitted in an interview with police that it was Knight's idea to file the tax returns.
"She didn't have control over the money," Ms Thomas told the court. All the money from the fraudulent returns was spent and no reparation had been made.
Judge Farr sentenced him to three years on the first six counts and two years on the last two counts.
He was given a non-parole period of 12 months.
He was ordered to pay back the $54,000 he claimed.
He will start serving his sentence when his current one expires in October 2017.