Wheelchair used to keep ACC cover

An Ashburton man has been sentenced to home detention after pretending to be wheelchair-bound to keep his ACC cover.

Leslie Tamateatu Urquhart-Barrett, 55, was charged with fraudulently receiving ACC assistance after turning up to medical appointments in a wheelchair despite being seen driving and walking unaided during his everyday activities, Christchurch District Court was told.

He was sentenced this week to seven months' home detention and ordered to pay $4031.21 reparation.

The court was told the truck driver injured his back and shoulder in a workplace accident in 2006 and received weekly compensation from ACC until August 2010.

After complaining of mobility restrictions in 2008, he underwent surgery, and received home help and the use of a wheelchair.

He continued to give ACC medical certificates stating that he was unfit for work.

Growing concerns from Urquhart-Barrett's case manager led to an investigation in 2010, during which Urquhart-Barrett was seen driving his car and walking unaided, although he continued to use his wheelchair at medical appointments.

ACC's general manager of claims management Sid Miller said it was disappointing when people abused the ACC scheme for financial gain.

"ACC collects levies to help people with genuine injury-related needs. Mr Urquhart-Barrett's offending therefore amounts to theft from honest, hard-working New Zealanders," he said.

ACC has a dedicated investigations unit, which follows up all tip-offs received about possible fraud.


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