A MANDURAH grandmother of four has narrowly avoided jail time for welfare fraud to the amount of $30,806.
A crown prosecutor told the court that Janine Smale first accessed Centrelink in 1997.
From 2009 to 2012, she told Centrelink on the phone and in person that she had no income.
Smale made 119 false declarations during this period.
ATO date matching found Smale had actually earned $46,000 working at the Atrium and $19,620 working at Mandurah Bakery.
This resulted in her being overpaid $30,806.
Counsel for the accused said Smale had been in a violent relationship and initially lied to Centrelink so she could escape.
She voluntarily went into Centrelink once she had been caught to organise repayments. She has paid back $6739.23.
The prosecutor said imprisonment would be the appropriate starting point in this case.
Magistrate Anne Longden agreed that due to the amount, imprisonment was inevitable.
“The facts speak for themselves,” she said.
“You were seeking to escape a violent relationship but the offending was all too easy. You have contributed to society by being a good mother and working, and you’ve pleaded guilty and you are remorseful.”
Magistrate Longden sentenced Smale to 12 months in prison, but released her on a $2000 community release order.
She ordered Smale to pay the outstanding $24,066.77 to Centrelink.