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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Millionaire's wife jailed for welfare fraud

Julie and Hamish Bohannan

Julie Bohannan began her life of deception before she met her millionaire husband Hamish Bohannan, but when her life circumstances changed for the better, she didn't stop.

Over eight years, she continued to tell Centrelink she was a single mother who lived with her parents and had no other source of income. And when some payments were stopped, she began claiming family tax benefit she wasn't entitled to.

Her lawyer David Edwardson pleaded for leniency and described how she suffered depression having to care for her severely disabled daughter Georgia who is now 16, and still in need of constant care.

Georgia was born with tuberous sclerosis, a rare genetic disease that causes benign tumours in the brain and other vital organs and she also has a rare epileptic disorder.

Her lawyer also pointed out that Ms Bohannan had repaid the debt four years before she was charged.

But judge Andrew Stavrianou would not be moved.  He sentenced her to 18 months jail for receiving $62,000 in social security payments she was not entitled to.

He said the offences were so serious that only jail time would do and didn't agree that her daughter's illness amounted to exceptional circumstances.

"You abused the system for your own personal gain" he said.  "This was planned, deliberate and dishonest."

She must serve nine months before being eligible for parole.