Sobs as pregnant woman jailed for benefit fraud

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 09:12 11/01/2014

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The de facto husband of a heavily pregnant Waitara woman sobbed loudly in court when the woman was jailed for $119,000 worth of benefit fraud.

Te Au Mihi Delores Juanita Pani Adams pleaded guilty in October to 13 charges of benefit fraud stretching over 12 years.

During sentencing in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday the court was told Adams is due to give birth next month.

The couple already have a 9-year-old child.

Her husband, Clive Dodunski, will have to give up work to care for the two children.

Adams' lawyer, Jo Woodcock asked for the recommended sentence of home detention for her client who was a first offender and extremely remorseful.

Adams was paying back the $119,076.82 at $50 a week, Ms Woodcock said.

At this rate it would take at least 45 years to repay.

The Department of Social Development prosecutor described the case as serious in that it involved ongoing offending, premeditation and deliberate fraud.

Judge Allan Roberts declined the community-based sentence citing similar cases involving ongoing offending where the money could never be repaid.

"The debt will realistically never be satisfied," the judge said.

He said home detention was inappropriate because of the serious nature of the offending and did not order reparation.

The de facto husband was fortunate he too was not charged, the judge said.

About $10,000 came into the family each year through the offending and that must have been noticed by other adults in the house. Adams had been motivated by greed, the judge said.

In 2006, she forged a document purported to be signed by a "Manu Mahu".

The judge read out the letter which stated Adams was living with Manu Mahu and his daughter "and she pays me $120 a week board" at their Nelson St, Waitara house. After giving credit for the early guilty plea and family responsibilities, the judge sentenced Adams to 15 months' jail.

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