Mum spared jail time after rorting Centrelink


A mother who defrauded the government of more than $30,000 has been spared from serving actual time in custody.

Patricia Ann Elliott, 45, defrauded Centrelink from December 6, 2016, to April 26, 2018, while receiving a carer's payment.


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The Townsville Magistrates Court heard Elliott failed to update her marital status and accurately report her and her husband's income.

Commonwealth prosecutor Catherine Ferguson said Elliott was under an obligation to inform the department of her changing circumstances.

"The defendant made four active false declarations … she earned $35,939.75 gross income from employment but declared none of that," she said.

"During the period, her husband earned $118,800 gross income from employment, (but) the defendant did not declare that to the department ­either."

Ms Ferguson told the court Elliot had received $32,757.85 in social security benefits and was entitled to none of that money.

The court heard Elliott had been a recipient of the carer's payment since 2004 and had similar offending on her criminal history dating to 2008.

The fraud was detected by a random sample survey in September 2017 after Elliott completed the survey and declared she had been divorced, ­ although she had been married on Nov­ember 12, 2016.

Elliott pleaded guilty to two counts of obtain financial advantage for self.

The court heard of the outstanding debt, Elliott had paid back $6336.65.

The defence barrister for Elliott, Kelly Stone, told the court his client did not have access to her husband's money. "The relationship was financially controlling and abusive … she wasn't aware of the money her husband was earning," he said.

"She didn't live the high life, she was working long hours to provide a family life."

Mr Stone said Elliott was the sole carer for her severely disabled 20-year-old son and a jail term would place significant hardship on the family.

Acting magistrate Peter Smid told Elliott that she had been spared a jail term after taking "into account an ­almost exhaustive list of factors".

"You being a mother of a 20-year-old son who's very, very seriously handicapped, that factor constitutes a very exceptional circumstance in my view," he said.

"But for that, you deserve to go to jail, and you would have gone to jail."

Elliott was sentenced to 12 months' jail released forthwith to be on good behaviour for three years under a recognisance of $5000.

Mr Smid ordered Elliott pay an outstanding $26421.20 in restitution.

Originally published as Mum spared jail time after rorting Centrelink