Cheating taxpayers of $70,000
IN separate fraud cases, four Bundaberg residents have pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court to defrauding the Commonwealth by making false claims to get Centrelink welfare payments.
Their cases of fraudulent greed meant they took home more than $70,000 not legally entitled to - money taken from fellow Australians.
Leslie Shedden, 67, falsely claimed $32,000, former Bundaberg cafe worker Timothy Sherratt ripped off $12,034; John Bayliss, 69, grabbed $15,372; and Tanya Hennessy, 50, defrauded the Commonwealth of $11,968.
In his case, Timothy William Sherratt, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of obtaining financial advantage from the Commonwealth of $12,034. Federal prosecutor Lauren Archer said Sherratt provided false information between May 2013 and December 2014 to claim Newstart by under-declaring his income.
Calling it an act of deceit, Ms Archer said it had been an ongoing course of conduct that allowed Sherratt to receive benefits not entitled to.
Ms Archer said there had been 30 instances of under-declaration of income.
But in the relevant time, Sherratt received a gross income of $52,846 but declared $21,290.
As a result, he received $17,299 but was only entitled to $5265 - an overpayment of $12,034.
Ms Archer said Sherratt had repaid $233 - withheld from his benefits and the department sought the remaining $11,800.
Sherratt told the court there was "a misunderstanding" while working at River Cruz cafe.
"I was reporting what I had in my bank. I was not getting any payslips so I declared what I had in my bank," he said.
"I'm working now at Innisfail Country Club."
Magistrate Belinda Merrin sentenced him to complete 120 hours of community service work, and ordered he repay $11,800.
In a separate fraud matter, John Andrew Bayliss, 69, pleaded guilty to three counts of obtaining financial advantage between November 2009 and January 2012.
Federal prosecutor Lauren Archer said he provided false information about his employment and income to gain Newstart allowance, and also carer payments.
It led to Bayliss receiving $15,372 in overpayments.
Ms Archer said Bayliss at times was employed on a casual basis as a bus driver and 46 times made under-declarations of income.
He received a gross income of $70,615 but declared $22,181 gross.
Bayliss received $20,064 in social security payments when he was only eligible to receive $4691 - an overpayment of $15,372. He had since repaid zero.
Legal Aid lawyer Nick Larter said Bayliss was a carer for his wife who was with him in court and seated in a wheelchair.
Mr Larter said the couple suffers a range of serious health issuesand Bayliss was unsuited to do community work.
Instead, in his submission Mr Larter said a short jail term, immediately suspended, was appropriate.
Magistrate Belinda Merrin accepted his ill health prevented Bayliss from doing community work, and instead sentenced him to three months' jail.
He was released on his recognisance of $2000 to be of good behaviour for two years. The $15,372 debt he owed was sent to SPER.
Tanya Lillian Hennessy's story will be in tomorrow's NewsMail.