A woman told police Centrelink didn't pay her enough when she was arrested for defrauding the NSW government by $22,000 through a series of false grant applications.
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Magistrate David Day said many people in the community work hard for that amount of money and fraud offences, like those committed by Kylie Jean Johnson, 42, of Seaborn Street, Parkes, have contributed to increased scrutiny on genuine people who need financial support.
"For hard-working honest people that is one third of their annual income," Mr Day said.
"All that's happened here is a person has defrauded the state.
"She's on the drugs and she's trying to feed her drug habit by stealing from everybody else by stealing from the [state] revenue."
The fraud case included multiple applications for crisis payments from Service NSW made in 2021.
Mr Day said the grants were "not some great blank cheque that she can write herself" but her fake applications, and similar offences committed by others, have harmed others, including the victims of last year's floods.
"Instead of [applications] being made quickly, they are now subject to intense scrutiny because people like Miss Johnson have been [rorting] the system," he said.
"People like Miss Johnson have thwarted the best attempts of government to help those in genuine need.
"The harm done to the community is considerable"
Johnson took exception to some of Mr Day's comments and repeatedly interrupted him when he sentenced her in Orange Local Court on Thursday, August 31. She also sniffled throughout the proceeding and often ducked out of view of the audio visual link camera.
"I was in a bad place and I did apologise for that," she said about the fraud offences.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Beau Riley said the fraud offences have been prevalent in recent years.
"The way claims can be made has changed now," he said.
"She may be going through hard times but there's still no apology."
In addition to the fraud, Mr Day also convicted her of damaging the frame of a signed football jersey when she ransacked a man's house, contravening an apprehended violence order and using a stolen credit card.
Johnson's supporting material for the Mouse Plague Rebate in August 2021 included a photo of a hole in a wall that had a watermark from the website it was taken from, as well as another image police discovered was taken from Pintrest.
In several other applications made using her details the supporting material included blurred images.
Some of the applications had a different name and email address supplied but the money was to be sent to Johnson's bank account.
Johnson was arrested for the fraud offences on April 13, 2022 and was taken to Parkes Police Station.
According to the police she admitted receiving $18,000 and said "I'm just sick of being broke" and "it's just too hard to live these days" while claiming Centrelink didn't pay her enough.
She said most of the 20 applications weren't made by her and she had no knowledge of them.
However, she was aware of some applications and indicated she provided her personal information to an unnamed associate who helped her submit the applications.
Police said she submitted 20 fraudulent applications to Service NSW and received $22,460 to accounts in her name.
Solicitor Ian McGuiness said the mouse plague application was "unsophisticated".
"There was a Google watermark on the image," he said.
He added that the fraud matters were an "aberration".
"For a person with drug issues to be 42 years of age and have one larceny on her record, I'm instructed there are other elements involved and there's a degree of [influence] but there's not evidence about that," Mr McGuiness said.
Following the fraud matters, Johnson on June 22, 2022 used a stolen debit card to buy chocolate milk, chips and other items valued at $29.64 from the BP Service Station at Forbes Road, Parkes.
She entered the petrol station with a co-accused woman at 2.35am and the stolen card was used to buy $114.75 worth of items including chocolate milk, cigarettes, chips and a lighter.
The card was also used for a $10.50 taxi ride and online transactions valued at $679.50
However, when police arrested Johnson and the co-accused they blamed each other for the more expensive purchases. Johnson said she only bought a packet of chips and a chocolate milk.
She was on bail on November 26, 2022 when police arrested her after she ransacked and fled a house in Forbes.
She smashed the frame of a signed Bulldogs jersey, threw other items, emptied drawers, threw a bin into the toilet and clothing on the floor.
She was still at the address when the victim returned home but tried to flee when the police arrived.
The police discovered the front door was locked so went to the back of the house and saw her climb over the fence to a neighbour's yard.
Police gave chase and jumped two fences before catching and arresting her.
In an interview at Parkes Police Station she denied breaking into the home and said she had been staying at the address.
While she was under arrest she told police she had cannabis in her bag and when they searched it they found 5.6 grams of the drug.
Johnson also failed to appear at Condobolin Local Court on July 4, 2023 and she contravened an AVO there in August by contacting the protected person.
Mr McGuiness said Johnson didn't receive the notices to attend court because she was living between two addresses.
Following her arrest she remained in custody and appeared in Orange Local Court via and audio visual link.
Mr Day said he would confirm the $22,460 compensation order for the government fraud matters.
Mr Day said Johnson crossed the custodial threshold but needed to participate in programs to reduce the risk of her committing further offences in the future.
He said if he sent her to full-time jail she would come out again and the drug "cravings will arise" she would hang around the same people "and she's off again".
"As to her attitude and narcissistic tendencies I cannot help you there," Mr Day said addressing Mr McGuinness.
He gave her a two-year community-based jail sentence, by way of an intensive correction order from August 31, 2023 to August 30, 2025 that will require her to abstain from drugs and participate in rehabilitation and treatment programs.
The ICO was for two counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, making false or misleading statements for benefit, failing to appear in court, FTA, property damage and drug possession.
If she breaches that order she could complete the sentence in full-time jail.
For contravening the AVO Mr Day gave Johnson an 18-month suspended community correction order.
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