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DPP (Cth) v Roberts [2021] NSWDC 472

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

Nature and Circumstances: There is no suggestion of any assumed identity. Offending related to $125,432.49 in overpayments of the carer’s pension from the Department of Social Security over a period of nearly six- and one-half years. The offender deliberately and consistently over a number of years misstated their income to the relevant authority. The offending conduct only stopped when there was a data match. The offender did not stop the offending conduct of their own volition. The offending is marginally above mid-range. To be towards the upper end in the range of seriousness it would have to involve greater sums of money and matters such as false identities.  

Antecedents: Offender is indigenous and grew up with adoptive parents. Offender’s adoptive mother was physically abusive. The factors of the offender’s upbringing go to enliven the Bugmy factors, reducing the moral culpability of the offending. The Bugmy factors should not be given excessive weight or overwhelm the seriousness of the offending.  

Mental Condition: Offender has often gambled away pay. Generally addiction to either gambling or drugs will not mitigate penalty.  

Contrition: Offender has not repaid full amount. Although offender is entitled to consideration for contrition the weight given to that is not as great as it would be if the whole of the amount defrauded had been repaid.  

Family and Dependents: Offender is a carer for their sister who suffers from significant number of health issues. Offender attends to all domestic duties and assists their sister with daily living. There will be some adverse effect on offender’s sister if the offender goes to custody. The issue is whether the needs of the offender’s sister reach the very high standard of exceptional. Although it goes close to the hardship that the offender’s sister would suffer it does not meet the standard of exceptional that is required by the authorities. The issue of hardship goes to the issue of the ratio between actual time in custody and total sentence.  

Offender sentenced to 3 years imprisonment to be released on recognisance after 10 months.
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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