Centrelink cheat dodges prison time
A GOLD Coast woman falsely claimed almost $30,000 from Centrelink over almost two years has been allowed to walk from the Southport Magistrates Court.
Melissa Anne Shute, 34, who was sentenced to nine months prison, will instead spent the next two years on a $2000 good behaviour bond and probation.
Shute claimed she claimed the additional $29,986.80 because she was in a violent relationship and suffering a drug addiction.
She pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining financial advantage for self.
During the half-hour sentencing, Shute sobbed loudly, sniffing and wiping her tears repeatedly.
The court was told over 51 fortnights Shute, who was on the Newstart allowance told Centrelink she had earned no money.
She had in fact earned more than $72,000 through three casual jobs as a telemarketer and call centre operator between August 2015 and September 2017.
Centrelink only found out because of an anonymous tip off.
Magistrate Gary Finger said the courts and community would not tolerate that type of behaviour.
He said due to the amount it would not be unusual for her to spend time in actual custody.
Mr Finger said however, he took into account Shute now had a full-time job and had taken steps to give up drugs.
"You are certainly now headed in the right direction," he said.
"I think sending you to prison wouldn't do you any good."
Shute's lawyer Evan Cooper, of Cooper Maloy Legal, handed up photos of Shute showing the injuries she had received during a violent relationship.
Mr Cooper said it was that coupled with drugs which lead to the offending.
"She has started paying $20 a week back and it goes up to $75 next," he said.
Shute was also ordered to pay the $29,986.80 back to Centrelink.