Centerlink fraudster jailed after $39,000 in overpayments

CENTRELINK fraudster Anthony Victor Tomkins had a small backpack of possessions ready for a stint in jail when he faced court yesterday for receiving more than $39,000 in overpayments.

 Tomkins, 47, had been working as a labourer for a Buderim paving materials supplier while receiving the Newstart allowance for jobseekers between April 2010 and August 2012 as well as between December 2012 and September 2013.

Federal prosecutor Carl Tessmann told Maroochydore Magistrates Court Tomkins had failed to tell Centrelink staff about his labouring job where he earned about $1400 a fortnight.

Mr Tessmann said Tomkins was overpaid $39,242.32 during the same period of about three years when he earned $113,962.73 from his labouring job. Defence lawyer Anna Smith described her client as "relatively simple and unsophisticated", when explaining his offending.

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MS Smith said Tomkins had separated from his wife of 10 years in 2010 and had struggled to afford accommodation as well as financial support for his two daughters.

That struggle did not stop despite the extra income.

"He certainly didn't spend the money on luxuries, to say the least," Ms Smith said.

"He had nothing to show for the money then and he doesn't have anything to show for it now."

Tomkins' fiancee was in the public gallery to support him.

Ms Smith said her client accepted he would be going to jail.

"It certainly wasn't done out of greed, it was rather need at that time."

Magistrate Rod Madsen referred to Tomkins' criminal history, which included some offences of dishonesty.

Mr Madsen said the benefits system had to be easily accessible for people who were struggling but that meant it relied on a high degree of honesty from those it assisted.

He noted Tomkins had struggled while receiving two incomes.

"So you can imagine how people doing the right thing are living," Mr Madsen said.

"Hand to mouth, basically."

He sentenced Tomkins to 12 months in jail, eligible to be released after four months.

Tomkins was also placed on a three year, $3000 good behaviour bond, as well as being ordered to repay the entire amount of more than $39,000 he had ripped off from the government.

Tears flowed from Tomkins' eyes as he embraced his fiancee before watchhouse officers collected him and his backpack and took him to the cells.



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