Home detention for six-year benefit fraud

A former lock in the Manawatu women's rugby team has pleaded guilty to benefit fraud to the tune of more than $70,000.

Raylene Natasha Reiri, 36, was sentenced in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday on charges of obtaining by deception and using a document for pecuniary advantage.

She was sentenced to nine months of home detention and ordered to pay reparation of $20,000 by Judge Barbara Morris.

Reiri's lawyer, Jock Turnbull, said she was "well thought of by her employer" but the sentence of home detention would mean the end of her job.

"However, she's so well thought of, hopefully she will gain employment quickly at the end of the sentence."

Reiri was initially unaware of how much money she had taken, although she accepted the nature of the charges against her, he said.

"She didn't think it was anywhere near that amount.

"Seventy-eight thousand dollars came as a great surprise to her."

The judge said Reiri fraudulently obtained a domestic purposes benefit and accommodation supplement over a period of six years.

At the time she was making the claims, she was married, despite stating on numerous forms that she was single.

"The benefits are there as a safety net and it is offending like this which on a large scale can threaten the whole system for those that are in need," the judge said.

Manawatu Standard