Men co-habited but not as a couple, court told

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

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Two men accused of benefit fraud may have been doing something "quite strange" by living together despite being ex-partners but they were not lying when they told Work and Income they were single, a court has heard.

The Crown is trying to show the men claimed to be single so one of them could continue receiving benefits, despite a law change from April 1, 2007, that required beneficiaries in same-sex relationships to have their partners' incomes assessed in the same way as those of heterosexual couples.

At the trial in the Napier District Court yesterday, the jury heard that one of the men told police, a hospital, Telecom, their bank, a finance company and electricity company that they were a couple after April 2007.

Both men also signed two sworn affidavits for court proceedings, declaring they were in "a committed relationship".

Matthew Goodall, 41, worked in the Hastings Work and Income office at the time of the alleged offending.

He is charged with dishonestly using a document with intent to obtain pecuniary advantage. Daniel Morgan, 37, faces eight charges of the same nature between 2007 and 2010.

Yesterday, Goodall's lawyer, Antony Willis, told the jury the pair were "two single males doing something probably quite strange, or something we are unaccustomed to.

"That is, being able to co-habitate in an environment where they were ex-partners looking after a child".

Their relationship ended in late 2006 and thereafter they would be best described as flatmates or friends, Mr Willis said.

Goodall told the court his parents and grandparents were close to former partners, and he saw nothing unusual in doing the same.

As a Work and Income employee, he was well aware of the law and, when signing a document declaring the pair were single, he was telling the truth. He told a number of people of his split with Morgan.

Morgan admitted signing several forms stating the pair were partners or in a de facto relationship, but could not explain why.

He said he and Goodall cared for two children, who were the reason he remained living with Goodall.

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- Fairfax Media

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