A man who had hundreds of items of other people’s mail in his possession was sentenced.
A man who had hundreds of items of other people’s mail in his possession was sentenced.

Fraudster who stole people’s dole and tax returns sentenced

A TOOWOOMBA man found with hundreds of stolen pieces of mail in his possession and who engaged in a litany of fraudulent activities, including claiming other people's tax refunds and dole payments was released on probation after spending more than two years in custody.

Joseph Michael Kanowski pleaded guilty to four Commonwealth offences of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, three counts of receiving tainted property, three fraud offences, one of attempted fraud, one of forgery, one of obtaining identification information, and one of stealing.

In sentencing remarks recently published by the court, Toowoomba District Court judge Dennis Lynch QC said a sentence of imprisonment was the only appropriate one, "given the magnitude of (Kanowski's) offending, and, in particular, your long history of committing offences of dishonesty".

The court in March this year heard police found "a quantity of mail" at Kanowski's residence, which had previously been stolen, as well as another person's "particular person documents", which had also been stolen.

Police also recovered "literally hundreds of pieces of mail" in the name of 51 people which had been stolen from letterboxes around Kanowski's home, and which included "a good deal of bank related information".

Kanowski had fraudulently purchased jewellery, lodged a credit card application in the name of another person and used it to "make purchases of significant sums", as well as ordering electronic devices in another person's name - though he was not able to get a hold of those.

The court heard Kanowski had also defrauded the Commonwealth of $74,347.32 by not declaring his income while claiming Newstart, pretending he had a child in order to claim the Parenting Payment and Family Tax Benefit and additional Pensioner Education Supplement, and diverting six other people's Newstart payments to his own bank account.

He also claimed two other people's tax returns with documentation he had obtained, totalling $13,000.

Judge Lynch said Kanowski was between the ages of 34 and 38 at the time of his offending and that he had significant criminal history and that many of the offences he was to be sentenced on occurred in breach of previous parole periods, as well as a six month suspended sentence.

He also noted Kanowski had spent two years, two months, and 20 days in custody.

The court heard Kanowski was abused as a child "in an educational facility", which resulted in significant behavioural problems which carried on into adulthood.

"I concluded, on the basis of the report, that conduct led to behavioural issues and led also to you using drugs as a form of self-medication, and that has resulted in your long history of offending," Judge Lynch said.

But Judge Lynch also there also appeared to be a change in Kanowski's thinking after spending time in custody.

"You have completed a number of substance abuse courses in custody, and you have, for the first time in your life, taken stock and made reflection upon your conduct and the causes of it."

For the Commonwealth offences, Kanowski was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment, released immediately on a good behaviour bond of $2000, and ordered to repay the $74,347.32 he had defrauded.

For the state offences, he was sentenced to two years probation.

The operational period of Kanowski's six month suspended sentence imposed by the Magistrates Court in November 2017 was extended for a further six months.

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