Mother of five pleads guilty to obtaining more than $25,000 in benefits from Centrelink she was not entitled to claim.By Darren Linton
A mother of five children has avoided an immediate prison sentence because of their dependence on her.
Selesa Ofisa, 33, of Shepparton, pleaded guilty yesterday to obtaining more than $25
Shepparton Magistrates’ Court heard between October 2009 and August last year Ofisa was receiving a sole parent payment from Centrelink and was required to report any income earned every fortnight.
During the same period she was also working as an aged-carer at a nursing home and investigations revealed she earned more than $120
The court heard on 75 occasions during the period Ofisa had made false declarations in relation to her income, leading to overpayments of $25
Lawyer Emma King said her client was salary sacrificing and was confused about her obligations, but Magistrate Paul Smith said it was difficult to accept given the amount involved.
‘‘It is in the realm where I would put her in jail,’’ he said.
‘‘I think it is worth jail, but I’ll suspend it because she has five kids.’’
Mr Smith sentenced Ofisa to four months’ jail, wholly suspended for a year.
He said the only reason he was not imposing an immediate custodial sentence was the age of the children and their dependence on their mother.
The court heard none of the money had been repaid.
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