Mum defrauded Centrelink

IT took only five months for a Rockhampton mother to defraud Centrelink of almost $11,000 in taxpayers' money.

The 44-year-old yesterday pleaded guilty to obtaining financial advantage for herself in Rockhampton Magistrates Court.

Prosecutor Christelle Tan said the woman had received $860 in fortnightly payments from Centrelink for 14 months, but she was only entitled to the funds for nine.

The Australian Taxation Office discovered the mother had been working for five months when she claimed parental allowance from Centrelink.

The lawyer representing the woman, Grant Cagney, said at the time of the offences the woman's alcoholic mother had been hospitalised.

Mr Cagney said the woman was suffering from depression after numerous difficulties throughout her life, including both her parents being alcoholics.

He said his client had suffered a head injury in a serious accident in 2000 and her brother had died from a "drug issue".

The woman was now employed, Mr Cagney said.

"It is out of character for her, being without any previous convictions," he said.

Magistrate Annette Hennessy said the woman had not tried to pay back any of the money owed to Centrelink. She ordered the woman pay reparation and complete 120 hours of community service.

Ms Hennessy told the woman her offences were very serious and if she came before the court again she might receive a prison sentence.

"You need to be careful not to find yourself in this situation again," she said.



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