In addition to the term of imprisonment Yates was ordered to repay the $419,653 to the Commonwealth.
In addition to the term of imprisonment Yates was ordered to repay the $419,653 to the Commonwealth. Megan Mackander

How an Ipswich grandmother stole $400K

A REDBANK grandmother and former Ipswich school bus driver has been sent to jail after defrauding the Australian Government of more than $400,000.

Before becoming a full time Uber driver, Deborah Lynn Yates, 49, was the director of an Ipswich-based transport company run by her and her partner which has since been liquidated.

In 2007 her company secured a contract with a major concreting company and in the years following made repeated false and deliberate claims for GST and fuel tax credits on monthly BAS statements.

An application to wind the company up was approved in May 2014 and the suspicious claims were referred to the ATO for investigation.

An audit by the Australian Taxation Office found over the three and a half years between December 2007 and June 2011 Yates made 41 false claims.

Through those claims she received the equivalent of between $600 and $6000 each week from the ATO that neither she nor her company were entitled to.

ATO auditors discovered a letter from Yates' accountant dated March 2010 which clearly stated the claims, picked up in the 2009 tax return documents, were incorrect and needed to be adjusted.

That letter included instructions on how to correctly claim GST and fuel tax credits.

In 2012 Yates had attempted to incorrectly claim another $9,608, but that was declined by the ATO.

In total, Yates - who has no criminal record - received a total of $419,653 obtained via the 41 false claims.

She pleaded guilty in Ipswich District Court on Friday to 76 counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception and two counts of attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception.

During sentencing Judge Dennis Lynch said it was sad to see a person of otherwise good standing sitting in the dock, knowing she would be sent to jail.

He was satisfied, despite the offending, Yates was a loving and supportive mother to her children and grandchildren.

"These are serious offences over a long period of time," Judge Lynch said.

"You managed to defraud the Commonwealth of a very significant sum...

 

"Your cooperation with the auditors is evidence of general remorse."

The prosecution acknowledged the offences were "not sophisticated" and Yates had entered an early plea of guilty.

Yates, who was visibly shaken and crying at the beginning of the proceedings, was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

She will serve a minimum of 16 months before being eligible for parole.

A host of Yates' family members including her parents were in the court room to support her.

After the sentence was handed down, they bid her an emotional farewell before Yates was taken into custody.

The maximum penalty for the charges is 10 years imprisonment and or a $60,000 fine.

In addition to the term of imprisonment Yates was ordered to repay the $419,653 to the Commonwealth.



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