Man sentenced over $35,000 fraud



A GRAFTON man who fraudulently claimed more than $35,000 from Centrelink was sentenced to serve a minimum of four months weekend detention when he faced Grafton Local Court yesterday.

Garry Connor, 37, pleaded guilty to three charges relating to claims he made between August 2000 and June 2004. During that four-year period, in which he had at times been earning up to $1200 a fortnight from full-time employment, Connor received $35,231.88 in sole parent payments.

In earlier court appearances he had pleaded not guilty to the charges before later changing his plea to guilty.

Connor had been claiming the benefit since 1996 to help with the care of his young son.

He began work in 2000 after a period of unemployment but failed to notify Centrelink.

While he received the benefit payments, Connor received a number of letters from Centrelink requesting he notify them if he started receiving wages from work.

In his submission, Connor's advocate Simon Priestly requested Magistrate Chris Bone acknowledge his client's actions were premeditated.

"It started out as something small and grew," he said.

Magistrate Bone said almost every aspect of Connor's case, excluding the amount in question which he said was unusually large, was typical of such a case coming before his court.

"...it wasn't as though you were working and then decided to get the pension," he said.

In handing down his sentence Magistrate Bone took into account the fact Connor had no previous criminal history and was not 'by nature a criminal'.

Connor was sentenced on each of the three charges to serve 12 months weekend detention.

He will serve them concurrently with a four month non-parole period at the Grafton Correctional Centre, beginning July 30.



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