Gay men face second trial for benefit overpayments

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2013

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Two gay men charged with benefit fraud will have to go through another trial after a jury could reach a verdict on only one of nine charges.

Work and Income employee Matthew Goodall was a case manager at the Hastings office at the time of the alleged offences. The Crown claimed he and Daniel Morgan lied when they said they were single so Morgan could continue collecting a range of benefits.

The men entered a relationship in 2001. Morgan was on a sickness benefit from 2005.

The Crown said they misled Work and Income about their relationship status from early 2007 because they knew a law change from April that year would mean same-sex partners' incomes would be assessed in the same way heterosexual couples were.

Goodall, 41, was charged with dishonestly using a document with intent to obtain pecuniary advantage. Morgan, 37, faced eight charges of the same nature between 2007 and 2010. The sum Morgan was allegedly overpaid was not stipulated in court.

The pair's defence was that although they still lived together and cared for two children together, they separated in late 2006 and were then flatmates or friends.

Over five days the jury heard from friends and acquaintances who said the pair remained a couple after 2006, and others who said they were separated.

Central to the Crown's case were a number of forms filled out by Morgan on which he stated he was still in a relationship.

Yesterday, the jury of 10 women and two men spent more than six hours deliberating before reaching an 11-1 decision to find Morgan guilty of one charge in 2007.

They could not reach a decision on the remaining charges.

The Crown indicated it wished the charges to go back to trial and the matter will be called on Monday in order to set a new trial date.

Judge Geoff Rea remanded the men on bail and did not enter a conviction against Morgan.

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- The Dominion Post

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