ACC spots wheelchair user walking

Last updated 13:14 14/02/2014

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An Ashburton man who pretended to need a wheelchair to continue claiming ACC payments has been sentenced to a seven-month stint of home detention.

Leslie Tamateatu Urquhart-Barrett, 55, would use a wheelchair when he went to the doctors but was seen driving and walking unaided during his everyday activities.

In the Christchurch District Court this week Urquhart-Barrett was ordered to pay more than $4000 in reparation and about $3000 in court costs.

The Ashburton truck driver injured his back and shoulder in a workplace accident in 2006. He received weekly compensation until August 2010.

After complaining of mobility restrictions in 2008, Urquhart-Barrett underwent surgery, and received home help and the use of a wheelchair. He continued to provide ACC with medical certificates stating he was unfit for work.

Growing concerns from his case manager led to an investigation being undertaken in 2010, during which Urquhart-Barrett was seen driving his car and walking unaided, although he continued to use his wheelchair when attending medical appointments.

ACC's general manager of claims management Sid Miller said it is always disappointing when people abused the system for financial gain.

"ACC collects levies to help people with genuine injury-related needs.

''Mr Urquhart-Barrett's offending therefore amounts to theft from honest, hard-working New Zealanders."

ACC has a dedicated investigations unit that follows up all tip-offs received about possible fraud.

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