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R v McMahon [2019] ACTSC 25

sentence — obtaining financial advantage by deception offence contrary to s 134.2(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code — offence relates to $139,199.97 obtained through false Centrelink declarations over a period of 8 years — objective seriousness — objective seriousness must be assessed having regard to the amount obtained, the nature and duration of the deception engaged in by the offender and the circumstances in which the offender engaged in that deception — significant amount of money obtained by deception over 8 year period involving both positive misrepresentations and failures to provide accurate information — husband had employment which excluded poverty as any explanation for continuing dishonesty — obtaining increased payments did not lead to extravagant expenditure of additional funds which appear to have been disbursed on day-to-day expenses for offender and family — present offending in low to mid range of objective seriousness for this offence — guilty plea — s 16A(2)(g) — subjective willingness to facilitate justice rather than the utilitarian value of having saved the community expense at trial which provides the basis for leniency in relation to a federal offence — Court not entitled to further reduce sentence on basis of utilitarian value of plea — general deterrence — s 16A(2)(ja) — general deterrence remains a very significant purpose of sentencing for these offences — public confidence essential to ongoing public support for welfare system which protects vulnerable people — co-operation — s 16A(2)(h) — the issue is the degree of leniency warranted as a result of offender’s disclosures — it is likely that a component of the overpayments, those relating to rent assistance, would have been discovered in any event because the Department had already commenced a review of offender’s rent assistance — evidence of Departmental processes not sufficient to indicate that it would have gone further to fully investigate the whole of her entitlements — offender’s disclosures were significant in that they ensured that the whole of unlawful conduct came to light and that offender’s guilt was readily able to be proven — sentence — only a custodial sentence will adequately reflect the seriousness of offending and need for general deterrence — period served by way of full-time detention is necessary — sentence imposed 2 years’ imprisonment with a recognizance release order to operate after 7 months — offender ordered to make reparation to Commonwealth by way of payment of $137,100.69
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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