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CDPP v Ren [2022] VCC 1683

The offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception from a Commonwealth entity contrary to s 134.2(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Nature and Circumstances: Offender obtained the financial advantage of a total of $77,407.06 from the Department of Human services by making materially false or misleading statements in their claim for the parenting payment single (PPS) scheme which resulted in the non-disclosure of real estate assets and funds held in bank accounts. The notion that offender misunderstood and made a mistake is inconsistent with their plea of guilty and they must be sentenced on the basis of acceptance of all the elements. The sum of money obtained and the degree of deceptive conduct makes this a serious offence. It is not the most serious. Ordinarily this offending would require a significant period of actual incarceration as well as a substantial sentence.

Mental Condition: Psychologist diagnosed offender with a major depressive disorder that is exacerbated by the ongoing effects of postpartum disorder. Offender also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. It is very much in offender’s favour that they have been progressing their treatment for those conditions. Psychologist’s report does not provide a sufficient nexus between offender’s mental impairments and offending to reduce offender’s moral culpability, which is high. Because of offender’s conditions, an immediate term of imprisonment would be very hard on them.

Contrition: It is very clear that offender has been expressing remorse for their offending and is suffering greatly from the realisation of the possible consequences which have arisen from offending. The degree of contrition offender has shown both by making reparations soon after offender was notified of the debt and the expressions of remorse that are referred to by witnesses are all relevant.

Family and Dependants: It is common ground that the most persuasive aspect of offender’s plea is the proposition that the hardship of offender’s children and parents is so significant that a sentence should not deprive offender of their liberty. Offender being the only reliable carer in their lives, the effect would be devastating upon them. The effects would also be significant on the two older children.

Offender sentenced to 20 months imprisonment to be released upon entering recognizance of $2,000 to be of good behaviour for 2 years. Offender ordered to pay a pecuniary penalty of $25,000.
The CSD acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. We acknowledge that we are on the land of the traditional owners and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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