Man who cheated Centrelink given jail term

A Koonawarra man who failed to declare thousands of dollars of his income to Centrelink, has been jailed.

Kevin Ryan lied about his earnings for 18 months between June 2009 and December 2010, telling Centrelink he had earned just $2000, despite netting more than $60,000 from his employment.

The 29-year-old was sentenced to three months' jail for the hefty fraud in Wollongong Local Court last year but appealed the term, claiming it was too severe.

Upholding the sentence yesterday, Judge Deborah Payne said there was a need to send a clear message about welfare fraud.

"The issue is general deterrence . . . a short period in custody has to be imposed to send a message that people can't defraud the social security system," she told Wollongong District Court.

"It's so essential . . . those in need of social security rely on it . . . and [this kind of fraud] is so easy to do."

Ryan, who pleaded guilty to the fraud, falsified his income for several months, triggering a $19,121.07 overpayment of his Newstart allowance.

Due to Ryan's substantial income from Domayne furniture store and Sanity Music, he was only partially entitled to receive social security benefits for two weeks and not entitled to any payment for 38 weeks.

The court was told Ryan had failed to declare any income on 15 of the 22 submitted payment forms, and had significantly under-declared his earnings on the other forms.

The overpayment was triggered last year via a data match with the Australian Tax Office.

Solicitor Tim McKenzie, acting for Ryan, told the court his client had made genuine efforts to repay nearly $5000 and intended to pay the rest of the money back.

He said Ryan had a limited record and was remorseful for his actions.

Ryan will be eligible for release in May.

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