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R v Baker [2019] ACTSC 316

sentence — obtaining financial advantage by deception from Department of Human Services offence contrary to s 134.2(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code — offence relates to $83,721.64 — nature and circumstances of the offence — s 16A(2)(a) — rehabilitation — s 16A(2)(n) — offending conduct ongoing for almost 5 years with around 50 false statements, offender received more than 3 times the amount to which they were actually entitled — no suggestion offender spent money on lavish lifestyle, as her motive was to meet daily financial needs including rent payment — offence was unsophisticated and did not involve features such as receipt of multiple benefits or use of false identities or bank accounts — assessed to be at low risk of general re-offending — offender has stable accommodation and enjoys supportive relationships — offender’s criminogenic risks relate to her health and poor decision-making in the past — offence was of substantial objective seriousness, although it was also quite unsophisticated — general deterrence — s 16A(2)(ja) — when sentencing for social security fraud, key sentencing consideration is general deterrence — offences of this kind are easy to commit and the Department and the general public depends upon recipients of benefits being trustworthy and honest in their dealings with the Commonwealth — several appellate courts have indicated that in cases of deliberate and sustained fraud a sentence of imprisonment is ordinarily required because it is unlikely that mitigating factors will outweigh importance of general deterrence — guilty plea — s 16A(2)(g) — contrition — s 16A(2)(f)(ii) — reparation — s 16A(2)(f)(i) — offender entered early plea of guilty, indicating contrition — for Commonwealth offences, an offender who pleads guilty is entitled to a discount on sentence if plea is evidence of their remorse, acceptance of responsibility, and willingness to facilitate justice — offender has repaid $6,446.65 to the Department, the Department has withheld part of offender’s fortnightly benefits — repayment has not occurred through any significant sacrifice by offender — most of overpayment remains outstanding — sentence — 2 years’ imprisonment imposed to be served by way of intensive correction order — reparation order pursuant to s 21B of the Crimes Act that sum of $77,382 be paid to the Department
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