Warwick dole cheat jailed for gambling $18,000

A CENTRELINK cheat who pocketed almost $18,000 worth of payments he wasn't entitled to, used the money for gambling and said he planned to repay it if he won a jackpot.

Ian Bruce Clarkson applied for the Newstart payment when he was made redundant from his former job in 2011.

The Warwick Magistrates Court yesterday heard despite Clarkson gaining a job at John Dee just two weeks later, he continued to receive the payments until April 2012.

During that time, the now 52-year-old earned a total of $57,763 at his job but declared just $1360.37.

Defence solicitor Zarin Lateef said Clarkson couldn't afford to pay the money back at this time as he was also paying off a $13,000 child support debt for his now-adult daughter.

He said the debt was acquired after a two or three year-period of non-payment.

The court heard that although the Warwick man was once financially comfortable, he had since battled a long history of financial problems that stemmed from the breakdown of a marriage.

Mr Lateef said his client was a hard worker but had filed for bankruptcy on three separate occasions, the latest of which was in April this year.

He added the payments were mostly used on pokies, keno and lotto.

Mr Lateef asked Magistrate Bevan Manthey to spare his client actual time behind bars and said Clarkson was willing to pay the money back once he had cleared his large child support debt.

"My client is very sorry for what he has done Your Honour and seeks forgiveness from this court for his actions," he said.

Mr Manthey said Clarkson, who has a criminal history littered with stealing and other dishonesty offences, had to be jailed.

"Offences of this nature are serious, they are costly and they are difficult to detect," Mr Manthey said.

"The department relies on the honesty of benefit recipients because imposing a stricter scheme of supervision and checking would be mightily expensive and delay payments to genuine applicants.

"I am mindful of the prevalence of these types of offences by persons who are in effect cheating the social welfare system.

"The community expects and demands that this type of practice not go unpunished."

Clarkson was sentenced to nine months jail but is to be released after serving one month. Mr Manthey also placed him on a two-year good behaviour bond and ordered all the money be repaid to Centrelink, in addition to $80 in court costs.



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