Gladstone mum sobs over jail for ripping off Centrelink $17K

GLADSTONE mum of three Alicia Starr Carlson was told there was no alternative but jail after she pleaded guilty to ripping $17,000 off Centrelink by falsely claiming Commonwealth benefits to which she was not entitled.

At the time of the offences Carlson, 36, was working on a farm and earned $60,000 but only declared an income of $8,860, Federal prosecutor Susan Miles told Gladstone Magistrates Court.

Carlson was only entitled to receive $1,174 in Newstart Allowance.

Carlson, who was convicted of a $5000 Centrelink fraud just 14 months before, pleaded guilty before magistrate Richard Lehmann to two counts of obtaining a financial advantage between October 2012 and August 2013; and January 2014 and December 2014.

Alicia Starr Carlson walks into court before she was jailed over a $17,000 Centrelink fraud. Photo Ross Irby / The Observer
Alicia Starr Carlson walks into court before she was jailed over a $17,000 Centrelink fraud. Photo Ross Irby / The Observer Ross Irby

It involved 46 fortnightly payments.

Lawyer Jun Pepito said "it was need not greed" and while jail was in range because of her prior offending, his submission was for an Intensive Corrections Order to be served in the community.

As she stood before Mr Lehmann waiting for sentence Carlson was visibly anxious, trembling nervously, holding the desk, and when a side door opened off the dock and a police officer walked in, some quiet sobs escaped when its implication struck her.

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Mr Lehmann said it was a serious offence involving significant money over some time and aggravated by her previous offending.

"The only appropriate penalty conceded by your lawyer is a prison term or to release you on an IC Order," he said.

"But in the circumstances it is offending of such seriousness with a previous (conviction) it requires actual jail time."

Mr Lehmann said he reduced the head sentence to take into account some mitigating factors including issues with her children's health put before the court.

Carlson was sentenced to six months jail and ordered to serve one month, with the remaining five months to hang over her head for two years of a good behaviour order.

She must also pay reparation. Visibly upset Carlson was led away.



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