Mum defrauded Centrelink after threats from kids
A MOTHER who illegally claimed more than $100,000 in welfare payments had been pressured to do so by her adult children, a court has heard.
Doreen Louisa Thompson, now 62, defrauded Centrelink of payments for over six years, from September 2011 to June 2017 and from October 2017 to May 2018.
In that time she pocketed about $104,000 while working as a casual laundry attendant at the Cairns Colonial Club resort.
Thompson submitted 106 false declarations to collect the Newstart allowance and despite being reminded of her reporting obligations in May 2017, went on to defraud the welfare system for a further eight months.
But Cairns District Court heard she did not spend the money on high-life luxuries or living beyond her means.
Instead, she was in the thrall of her two abusive adult children, who threatened the woman with the destruction of all her possessions if she did not pay for their drug habits.
The court heard Thompson would often go to work two or three hours early just to get away from her own children.
"There were factors at play," Mike Dalton, defending, said
"Emotional abuse and financial abuse, which would have been considered domestic abuse in today's world.
"There was no lavish lifestyle - she was a low income earner who took money inappropriately motivated by a desire to prop up her family."
He told the court Thompson's children blamed her for the loss of their Mossman family home and in her words, "went wild."
"(There was) abuse, threats, insults and threats to property," Mr Dalton said.
The pair had threatened to "smash up her unit" if she did not deliver the cash.
Thompson pleaded guilty to obtaining financial benefits by deception.
The defendant was finally caught out after the Australian Taxation Office compared bank statements and records with its own information, in a process called 'data matching.'
In a letter to the ATO, Thompson wrote she "did not want her grandchildren to end up without food or in foster care."
Since her arrest last year she has paid back $2114.
Judge Anthony Rafter sentenced Thompson to two-and-a-half years in prison, to be released after six months, followed by three years of good behaviour.
He ordered her to repay $102,064.