Shearer worked while claiming sickness benefit

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 12:00 13/11/2012

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For nine years a Feilding man took on seasonal shearing work while claiming a benefit.

Between 2003 and this year, Joseph Patrick Simeon, 33, received benefit overpayments of $63,666.

Just under $50,000 of that was for sickness benefits to which he was not entitled.

When he appeared in Feilding District Court yesterday, Simeon was jailed for 13 months for five benefit fraud offences, as well as two offences of assault and for breaching a protection order.

These were domestic-related incidents that took place in May and June.

Judge Barbara Morris said Simeon was cheating a system that acted as a safety net.

"This is significant offending over a significant period of time involving significant amounts of taxpayers' money."

Social Development Ministry prosecutor Pip Transom noted Simeon's criminal history and said he had a problem with honesty.

But defence lawyer Jacinda Younger said Simeon was "complacent" rather than wilfully dishonest.

He accepted he had not advised the ministry of his employment over a long period of time.

Simeon was three months into a 10-month home detention sentence cannabis cultivation offences.

He is now likely to be re-sentenced to an additional prison term on those matters.

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- Manawatu Standard

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