$32,000 fraudster gets jail but walks
FRAUDSTER Leslie Shedden ripped $32,433 off Centrelink in carer and unemployment welfare payments he was not legally entitled to get.
But the 67-year-old Bargara retiree has avoided a jail cell and been allowed to return home after a 10-month jail sentence he received was immediately suspended.
Shedden was released by a Bundaberg magistrate on a $4000 own recognisance to three years good behaviour, and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid community service work.
He was ordered to pay reparation of the $30,413 still owed. Leslie George Shedden pleaded guilty to three Commonwealth charges of obtaining financial advantage for himself at different times between August 2012 and July 2015 - involving either Carer benefit payments or Newstart allowance.
Federal prosecutor Lauren Archer said his offences included not declaring income, or under-declaring in order to obtain Commonwealth Social Security benefits.
Ms Archer said Shedden had a legal obligation to report changes in his income but did not. There had been 24 false declarations 'of nil income' to obtain benefits to which he was not entitled.
Ms Archer said Shedden received a gross income of $116,460 but declared nil income and received Commonwealth benefits of $40,286.
But he was only entitled to $7,853 and been overpaid $32,433.
Shedden has now repaid $2531 with the money withheld from his benefits.
Defence lawyer Thomas Bray said Shedden's wife died in 2014 after battling cancer for many years and the concreter had been receiving a carers pension, then Newstart after her death.
Mr Thomas said he spent many years providing care to his wife and after her passing began drinking and gambling.
"Why did your client take all this money. What did he do with the money," magistrate Belinda Merrin queried.
Mr Thomas said it was not spent on a lavish lifestyle and there were significant medical costs, and he was renting a home.
Ms Merrin accepted that after losing his wife Shedden lost his way, gambling and drinking alcohol. And said his fraud was significant in what it yielded him.
Accepting Shedden still had the capacity for 'hard work', must repay the outstanding monies, and that the community would best be served by this, Shedden was immediately released.