Christian charity worker defrauds Centrelink $60k
A BRIDGEWATER man has been sentenced to a period of home detention after pleading guilty to defrauding Centrelink of more than $60,000.
Before Magistrate Reg Marron in the Hobart Magistrates Court, Gregory John Halley, 52, of Bridgewater had previously pleaded guilty to one count of obtaining a financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity from April 2013 to June 2018.
The court heard Halley had been overpaid $60,055 by the Commonwealth.
Defence lawyer Fabiano Cangelosi said Halley had worked as a local area co-ordinator for Mission Australia for the past two years, as well as in the disability sector and had completed various volunteer and community work.
Mr Cangelosi said the offending came about due to difficulties with the online system and entering his data correctly and from there it "got out of hand."
"He was not a wealthy man and this money made things easier," Mr Cangelosi said.
"Often in these sort of cases, people don't realise how far out of control things are getting."
The court heard Halley's annual income averaged out to be approximately $50,000 each year during the offending.
The Commonwealth prosecutor said only a sentence of imprisonment was appropriate in the circumstances.
"He knew he was required to report and he chose to state he was not earning when he was."
Mr Marron said the social security system was open to abuse and fraudulent claims undermined the system.
"There are many countries in the world where there is no such thing as welfare," he said.
"When you enter into fraudulent acts like this, you bring the whole system into jeopardy - it relies on honesty and trust - and acts such as these demonise social security recipients."
The court heard Halley had no relevant prior convictions.
He was sentenced to seven months home detention and must serve 84 hours of community service.
"I hope you are able to maintain your employment," Mr Marron said to Halley.
A reparation order for the $60,055 was also made.
Originally published as Christian charity worker defrauds Centrelink $60k