Cathy Jayne hits out after fraud case col­lapses

EX­CLU­SIVE

The Advertiser - - NEWS - AN­DREW HOUGH SATUR­DAY SEPTEM­BER 30 2017

ONE-TIME Ade­laide prop­erty ty­coon Cathy Jayne Hog­ben (nee Pearce) has lashed out at fed­eral au­thor­i­ties for their “dis­grace­ful” ac­tions after her wel­fare fraud case col­lapsed.

The ex-BRW rich-lister was ac­cused of steal­ing $15,000 from Cen­tre­link.

Com­mon­wealth pros­e­cu­tors had ac­cused Hog­ben, 44, of fraud­u­lently re­ceiv­ing the cash from il­le­gal New­start Al­lowance claims, dat­ing back more than five years.

Ms Hog­ben had not for­mally pleaded to three counts of ob­tain­ing a fi­nan­cial ad­van­tage for her­self be­tween April 2011 and July 2012 at Glenelg North, Somer­ton Park and other undis­closed ar­eas.

Among the al­le­ga­tions were claims she un­der-de­clared earn­ings from Peter F Burns Real Es­tate — the Brighton agency where her late hus­band, Myles, 69, worked.

Ms Hog­ben, whose for­tune was once val­ued at $19 mil­lion, had de­nied the claims out­side court, in­sist­ing the case “was pretty thin to be hon­est”, based on wrong in­for­ma­tion, and a de­part­men­tal mis­take.

An ar­rest war­rant had been is­sued in Novem­ber last year for the Somer­ton Park-based house­wife after she failed to at­tend court. If con­victed, she had faced a max­i­mum 12 months’ jail for each of­fence.

Just weeks after the case was launched, her ex-hus­band died after a brief ill­ness. They had sep­a­rated in 2011.

But her le­gal bat­tle took a suprise turn in the Ade­laide Mag­is­trates Court last week, when pros­e­cu­tors sud­denly dropped the charges without ex­pla­na­tion. There was no ap­pli­ca­tion for costs.

The mum of five, and who has four stepchil­dren, yes­ter­day con­demned the gov­ern­ment for blindly prose­cut­ing without, what she ar­gued, any ad­e­quate rea­son.

“The treat­ment has def­i­nitely been dis­grace­ful,” she said. “I find it as­ton­ish­ing that there is not a more thor­ough process. It makes me an­gry that I have not been given a proper ex­pla­na­tion. “I think the re­sult with the charges be­ing dropped speaks for it­self. The case has been a waste of tax­pay­ers’ dol­lars.

“The past 12 months have been hor­ren­dous as I have been liv­ing un­der a cloud of sus­pi­cion.

“It’s an empty feel­ing. You just get told that the ‘charges are dropped and you are free to go’. There is no ‘whoops we were wrong’. There is no com­pen­sa­tion, no apol­ogy. I think I would be well within my rights to give the Gov­ern­ment a spray and I may even take that fur­ther later.”

A Com­mon­wealth Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions spokesman yes­ter­day said an “in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment” had found “suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence” to lay charges linked to the “un­der declar­ing” of in­come.

He said after re­ceiv­ing in­for­ma­tion from her lawyers, it was “de­ter­mined that whilst there was suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to con­tinue the pros­e­cu­tion, it was no longer in the pub­lic in­ter­est to do so”.

He said all cases are “assessed, and may be re­assessed in response to in­for­ma­tion”. A Hu­man Ser­vices depart­ment spokes­woman said last night: “It would not be ap­pro­pri­ate for our depart­ment to com­ment fur­ther on the mat­ter.”

CLEARED: Cathy Jayne Hog­ben out­side court.

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