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R v Issac [2023] NSWDC 207

The offender was sentenced after 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 falsely represented to Services Australia that they had separated from their husband in the context of applying for, and receiving, payments of Parenting Payment Single (PPS). A parent is eligible for PPS only if that parent is not a member of a couple.  Offender submitted very many false claims. Offending only stopped because offender’s fraudulent activities came to the attention of the authorities when another Commonwealth agency disclosed the relationship to Services Australia. The total amount offender fraudulently received was $170,787.11. The objective seriousness of the offence for an offence of its kind is just below mid-range.

Mental Condition: The Crown conceded that offender was suffering from a major depressive disorder and that at least at certain points of time this impaired their ability to carefully consider the consequences of their decision making. No finding is made on those issues beyond the terms of the concession. Offender’s condition does not reduce their moral culpability to any significant degree — not least because there were very many occasions when offender had the opportunity of discontinuing their dishonest conduct; nor should it significantly reduce the engagement of general deterrence.

Rehabilitation: Offender has repaid the total amount of their fraudulent criminality. Offender is not genuinely remorseful — as opposed to being sorry for finding themselves in the position they currently are. The plea was entered in the face of a strong Crown case. The repayments are also capable of being regarded as steps taken by offender to reduce the penalty they will receive. Offender has continuing good family support. Offender has taken no steps to secure employment since their arrest built, in the circumstances, that is understandable. Offender’s prospects for rehabilitation are guarded. Specific deterrence is, therefore, fully engaged.

Offender sentenced to 3 years imprisonment to be released after 16 months on recognizance of $1,000 to be of good behaviour for 20 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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