No conviction for ACC fraud

A Blenheim woman has avoided a conviction after defrauding the Accident Compensation Corporation of $18,000 in false claims.

Catherine Smythe, 52, previously admitted the charge of dishonestly using a document, an ACC44 declaration form, following the death of her partner in 2010.

After Smythe admitted to the charge, an application was made for a discharge without conviction, to protect her employment prospects.

At the Blenheim District Court yesterday Judge Chris Tuohy said he had received documents which confirmed this was the case.

While Smythe was not in work, the time would come when she would seek a job as a cleaner.

Judge Tuohy was prepared to discharge her without conviction, but still imposed a punishment.

Smythe was ordered to pay back $5000 of the money in instalments of $20 per week, and was to do 100 hours' community work with a charity within six months.

Smythe was on a survivors benefit after her live-in partner Sean Mortensen died in a forestry accident on January 20, 2010.

After his death Smythe filled in an ACC declaration form, falsely claiming that her three children by another marriage were in the fulltime care of herself and Mortensen at the time of his death.

The ACC accepted the information given that the children were Mortensen's dependants.

Grant aid and weekly compensation payments were given.

An investigation was launched in January last year into Smythe's entitlements and uncovered an overpayment of $18,140.

Smythe's emotional state at the time could be taken into account as mitigating factors, the judge said. The fraud had involved one false claim, rather than multiple claims as was common, he said.

The Marlborough Express