Benefit fraud pair to stay at home

Last updated 12:16 11/08/2012

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A husband-and-wife team of benefit fraudsters will have to stay home together each night while they both serve a community detention sentence.

But if it wasn't for the fact Pamela Dianne Te Purei, 53, and Butch Nohotakitahi Te Purei, 52, had to look after their five grandchildren, Mrs Te Purei could have faced a harsher sentence.

They appeared side by side in Palmerston North District Court yesterday after admitting benefit fraud of $2727 each.

According to a Social Development Ministry summary, the pair were granted an invalid's benefit in March 2009.

Between April and September last year, Mr Te Purei worked for freight company STL Linehaul without telling the ministry.

His wife worked for the same company between July and November, 2011.

Earlier this year the pair were spoken to by ministry investigators.

Mrs Te Purei said she did have a conversation with someone at the ministry about working.

"However, when she did commence employment she forgot to contact them," the summary says.

Mr Te Purei said he needed to work as his house had been burgled and an insurance claim declined, leaving him unable to replace items belonging to his grandchildren.

And it was because of the children that Mrs Te Purei's lawyer, Jacinda Younger, urged Judge Gerard Lynch not to impose a home detention sentence on "humanitarian grounds", despite a previous conviction for benefit fraud. Their grandchildren's mother is dead.

On two charges of wilful omission and one of dishonesty using a document, Mrs Te Purei was sentenced to six months' community detention and 80 hours' community work.

Her husband was sentenced to two months' community detention on two charges of wilful omission and two of dishonestly using a document.

He was too unwell to do community work.

While on community detention, the pair must stay home between 7pm and 7am.

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- Manawatu Standard

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