Grandmother jailed for $250,000 benefit fraud

A 62-year-old Christchurch grandmother has been jailed for benefit fraud totalling nearly quarter of a million dollars.

Jasmine Kasiana Teowai Hudson had been receiving extra benefits and accommodation supplements between 2000 and 2015, the Christchurch District Court was told.

Defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger said the offending was a situation of need, not greed. She had an on-off relationship with a partner but kept taking the benefit.

The funds she received went into running a household and bringing up children, she said.

Prosecutor Jennifer North from the Ministry of Social Development said Hudson was repaying the money out of her benefit, and reparation was not sought.

Judge Tony Couch said he was sentencing Hudson for one charge of obtaining money by deception, and 18 charges of dishonestly using documents, which she had admitted.

He said she used 18 forms to receive extra money, without declaring she was living with a partner, and had received extra benefits worth $246,871.

It was serious offending, and Hudson was aware at all times of her obligation to inform the ministry of the relationship, he said.

Hudson had previously spent time in jail, and had 22 convictions for dishonesty offending in 2000, and 2001.

Judge Couch said he had read five letters of support for Hudson, which told him of the good things she had done, and the positive aspects of her character.

Hudson had been providing care for her daughter and two grandsons.

Judge Couch said there was a view held by some people that benefit fraud was less serious than other dishonesty, but that was wrong and misguided. Benefit fraud was stealing from the whole of society, and was a breach of trust.

He said he believed Hudson was genuinely remorseful, and sentenced her to prison for two years seven months.


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