TWO Ipswich flood cheats who ripped off more than $3500 between them have faced court and been handed suspended prison terms.
Scott Bradley Gardiner, 41, claimed almost $3000 he wasn't entitled to during the Queensland Disaster Relief Grant payouts last year. The money was made available for flood victims in desperate need, but so far more than 1000 are before the courts for stealing from the public purse.
Gardiner legitimately claimed $680 on January 13, but then claimed a further four grants for the same amount until February 9.
He signed a declaration saying his Phillip St, One Mile home had been inundated to above the floor level and he hadn't received any assistance, which police discovered was a lie.
Anthony Brian Beetham, 33, applied for and received $850 he shouldn't have, by signing declarations stating he hadn't received any assistance.
Between January 23 and 28, Beetham struck at four shelters - Lowood, Fernvale, Laidley and Gatton - and received payments ranging from $170 to $340 each time. A final cheque of $170 on January 30 was cancelled before Beetham could cash it.
Ipswich Magistrate's Court prosecutors called for actual jail time for both offenders, saying their conduct was persistent and the money was meant for those in dire need.
Gardiner had a one-page history for dishonesty offences, while Beetham had a five-page criminal history.
Magistrate Donna MacCallum said taking advantage of people who were genuinely in need was "appalling" behaviour.
Defence lawyer for both men, Matthew Fairclough, said they were experiencing financial trouble at the time.
Mr Fairclough said Gardiner had been fired from his job as a baker from Brumby's in October 2010, so when the floods hit he was under extreme stress.
He said Gardiner, a father of three, had taken advantage of the opportunity the flood grants gave.
Beetham, also a father of three, needed the money as he was also struggling financially.
Gardiner pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud, was sentenced to six months prison wholly suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay $2720 restitution to the Queensland Government.
Beetham pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud, was sentenced to four months prison wholly suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay $850 restitution.