Woman swindled more than $30K of benefits

A Cromwell woman with a history of benefit fraud has been sentenced to seven months’ home detention after obtaining payments totalling more than $30,000 by deception.

It was revealed Annette Cuthbertson (56), unemployed, of Cromwell, had previously committed benefit fraud 11 times, totalling more than $19,000, when she appeared before Judge Michael Turner in the Alexandra District Court yesterday on three charges of obtaining by deception and two charges of using a document.

The summary of facts states Cuthbertson was granted the jobseeker support benefit in September 2015 after agreeing to immediately advise the Ministry of Social Development if there were any changes in her circumstances.

An inquiry into Cuthbertson was later carried out and established she was living in a de facto relationship prior to applying for the benefit but had said she was single.

She said she did not have a partner in September 2016 when her benefit was reviewed.

On October 8, 2019 Cuthbertson submitted a personal details form to explain an overseas trip and said it was paid for by family when the cost of the trip was covered by her partner.

While she was under investigation, Cuthbertson had contact with the ministry 45 times and four times was asked about her relationship status.

She was also employed during the relationship and did not declare any income she was receiving.

Cuthbertson was interviewed about her relationship on January 9 and said she needed the money to clear debts.

Cuthbertson was overpaid $31,720.

Cuthbertson’s lawyer, Kieran Tohill, said he accepted jail was the starting point for sentence, but her employer wanted to retain her and submitted a sentence of home detention was appropriate.

In sentencing Cuthbertson, Judge Turner outlined her previous offending.

"You have, in short a history of stealing from the state, from every tax payer in the country, and you have not learned."

In addition to the home detention sentence, Judge Turner sentenced her to complete 125 hours’ community service to "put back in a physical way to the community you have taken from".

He also also ordered her to pay $31,720 back a rate of $100 per month.


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