A Buller woman has been jailed for 10 months for receiving
more than $63,000 in benefit payments she wasn't entitled to.
Anne-Marie Louise Quinn, 45, of Inangahua, pleaded guilty
earlier this year to two charges of taking, obtaining or
using a document for pecuniary advantage.
She was sentenced in the Westport District Court today.
Judge Paul Kellar said Quinn had 19 convictions for
Defence lawyer George Linder said she had since changed her
He said Quinn was keen to pay her debt to society and
realised she had done wrong.
She had been in a "toxic" relationship at the time of the
offending. Her partner was addicted to drugs and had forced
her to continue working, even though she knew it was wrong.
She had been doing contract work for a company during her
offending between May 2010 and September 2011 and wasn't sure
whether she would get paid or when.
Her employment during her offending between April 2005 and
May 2010 had also been insecure.
She'd never expected her work to continue from week to week
but it had, Mr Linder said.
She knew she had to notify the Ministry of Social Development
about the work but was under pressure from her partner, and
suffered anxiety, depression and a gambling habit.
She had now sought help for those things. She'd left the
relationship, stopped gambling, and had made every endeavour
to change her life since she came to the West Coast almost
two years ago.
Mr Linder disputed a section of the pre-sentence report,
which said Quinn showed little remorse for her offending.
Although the pre-sentence report recommended imprisonment, it
went on to say a Rangiora address put forward would be
suitable for electronic monitoring, he said.
A letter from a resident at that address said that as well as
serving home detention there, Quinn could enable the resident
to study and eventually go back to work.
Mr Linder suggested Quinn serve her home detention and do
He said she had no illusions about the likelihood she would
go to prison and had packed a toothbrush.
Judge Kellar said the maximum penalty for each charge Quinn
faced was seven years in prison.
On signing her benefit application she'd agreed to advise the
ministry of any change in her circumstances that may affect
As part of information-matching with the Inland Revenue
Department, it found she had started work in April 2005 and
again in May 2010.
As a result she'd received overpayments of $63,046.44. A big
portion of that was made up of sickness benefits.
The purpose of sentencing was to hold her accountable,
promote a sense of responsibility, and acknowledge the harm
in defrauding the taxpayer and undermining the system.
Her criminal history painted a sad picture of dishonesty
offending, including shoplifting and misleading a social
welfare officer, Judge Kellar said.
He sentenced Quinn to 10 months in prison.
- Westport News