Dubbo man who defrauded Centrelink receives jail term

A working man who defrauded Centrelink of more than $30,000 in dole payments has been sentenced to a nine-month jail term.

Lenard William Mullen, 30, understated his income while receiving unemployment benefits during a period of more than three years.

He pleaded guilty in Dubbo Local Court to four counts of receiving financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity.

Magistrate Philip Stewart sentenced Mullen to nine-month term of imprisonment, with a six-month non-parole period.

He said the offence involved a degree of planning, a sense of justification and greed not need as a motivating factor.

“The community will not tolerate (such actions) . . . (which are an) imposition on those who genuinely need it,” Mr Stewart said.

The Dubbo man was also ordered to pay back the $25,925 he still owed.

The court heard Mullen was overpaid $32,915 and the offences took place in 84 fortnights in a period between December 2010 and January 2014.

Mullen had been granted Newstart Allowance because he was not receiving sufficient working hours.

He was required to declare his income during that time and the offences arose out of him understating his income, court documents show.

The defence submitted the offence was not a case of greed, but rather a man trying to provide for the needs of his family.

Mullen was a hard worker and had been paying back “the taxpayers of Australia” for the past 2.5 years, reducing the sum, his solicitor said.

In October Mullen had sustained an injury in the workplace, suffering tendon and nerve damage as a result, the court heard.

For that reason he was unsuitable for a community service order, the solicitor said.

The practitioner submitted that if the court considered the matter too serious for a bond, then a suspended jail sentence may be appropriate.

The magistrate said it had been submitted that because of the early plea, the lack of a record and that Mullen was paying back the sum, other options to a full-time custodial sentence could be considered.

Mr Stewart cited other cases where custodial sentences were imposed, saying the caselaw was clear.

Mullen was led from the court into custody.

Later that day he lodged a notice of appeal to Dubbo District Court, listed for January 31, and was granted bail.