Nelson man sentenced to home detention for $25,000 benefit fraud
A Nelson man who lied about his relationship status while on the unemployment benefit defrauded the Ministry of Social Development of more than $25,000.
Jamie Alan Parsons was sentenced in the Nelson District Court on Thursday to six months' home detention for the benefit fraud, totalling $25,729 over more than four years.
He pleaded guilty last year to three charges of obtaining by deception, nine of using a document for pecuniary advantage and one of omitting to advise the ministry.
The court heard that Parsons was granted an unemployment benefit in February 2011.
He agreed to advise the ministry if there were changes to his circumstances that might affect his entitlement.
The ministry later discovered that Parsons was living in a "marriage type relationship" with his partner between February 2011 and November 2015.
Inquiries also established that he had been working since August 2015 while still receiving the benefit.
On various documents Parsons filled out while on a benefit he stated he was single and lived alone.
Ministry lawyer Michael Crehan said Parsons had 103 previous convictions and a one-year prison sentence was appropriate.
Defence lawyer Tagan Lyall said Parsons had a low IQ and the reading age of an 11-year-old, which reduced his culpability.
"I don't think it's a case of this man trying to mislead anyone."
Crehan said while Parsons' intellectual functioning "presents him some challenges" he did know what he was doing.
Judge Ian Mill deferred Parsons' home detention sentence for two weeks to allow him to see if it's compatible with his current job.
He ordered Parsons to pay back his debt at $100 a fortnight.