Centrelink scam pair escape jail
Genuine claimants fail to report changesA COUPLE who accepted overpayments from Centrelink of more than $76,000 escaped a jail sentence yesterday.
Christina Robertson, 44, and her husband, Geoffrey, 38, from Junction Hill, were convicted in Ballina Local Court yesterday for failing to declare income received from Centrelink over a 10-year period.
While their solicitor, Michael McMillan, told the court a custodial sentence was inevitable in their case, magistrate Chris Bone disagreed.
"The precedents have generally been set by higher courts where greater criminality is involved," Mr Bone said.
Mr Bone noted the couple were initially genuine claimants of a pension and had paid back the money owed.
The court heard that Mr Robertson was on a Disability Sup- port Pension following a work-related spinal injury, and Mrs Robertson was receiving a Wife's Pension when she obtained work as a nurse's assistant at Grafton Base Hospital in 1993.
The couple failed to notify Centrelink of her income, resulting in over-payments of about $38,000 each. However, Mrs Robertson declared the money on her tax return.
The magistrate fined Mrs Robertson $1000 for each of two charges, $61 court costs and placed her on a good behaviour bond.
Mr Robertson was also placed on a good behaviour bond for two years and made to pay court costs of $61.
The couple said they were happy with the outcome of the case. A Centrelink spokeswoman said they were unable to com- ment on the specifics of the case.