Ap­peal by fraudster re­jected

The Dominion Post - - News - MARTY SHARPE

A ben­e­fit fraudster who claimed $126,000 she wasn’t en­ti­tled to has had her ap­peal thrown out, and will re­main in jail.

The of­fend­ing by Flaxmere woman Frein­hilga Tawhai, 45, oc­curred be­tween 2007 and 2015. She was on a do­mes­tic pur­poses ben­e­fit and re­ceived a rent re­duc­tion at her Hous­ing New Zealand prop­erty.

How­ever, dur­ing that pe­riod, she resided with her part­ner, who was also re­ceiv­ing a ben­e­fit.

Both reg­u­larly sub­mit­ted doc­u­men­ta­tion to the Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment to con­firm they were not liv­ing in a re­la­tion­ship with some­one else.

Based on those claims, the min­istry paid Tawhai $126,000.

Last year, Tawhai pleaded guilty to 10 charges of dis­hon­estly us­ing a doc­u­ment and one charge of ob­tain­ing by de­cep­tion.

In Hast­ings Dis­trict Court last De­cem­ber, she was sen­tenced by Judge Tony Adeane to two years and one month in prison.

This month, Tawhai ap­pealed that sen­tence in the High Court.

Lawyer Eric Forster ar­gued that Judge Adeane should have given his client more dis­count for her ex­pres­sion of re­morse and the fact she would re­pay the amount she wrongly re­ceived through de­duc­tions in her ben­e­fit.

Pros­e­cu­tor Cameron Stu­art pointed out that at the pro­posed re­pay­ment of $30 a week, it would have taken 80 years to re­cover the full amount.

Jus­tice Gra­ham Lang said Tawhai’s re­morse ap­peared to be di­rected at the sit­u­a­tion she found her­self in, ‘‘namely fac­ing a sen­tence of im­pris­on­ment’’.

Judge Adeane had taken all fac­tors from the case into ac­count, he added, be­fore dis­miss­ing Tawhai’s ap­peal.

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