Appeal by fraudster rejected
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.