Ministry of Social Development v Meynell [2019] NZDC 6247

Published 03 October 2019

Sentencing — obtaining by deception — benefit fraud — dishonestly using documents — using a document to gain a pecuniary advantage — Social Security Act 1964. Two defendants appeared for sentencing. The first defendant faced one charge of obtaining by deception, two charges of using a document to gain a pecuniary advantage and one representative charge of dishonestly using 14 documents; the second defendant faced two charges of obtaining by deception and one representative charge of dishonestly using seven documents. The first defendant's offending spanned a period of more than 17 years, while the second defendant's offending lasted 15 years. The defendants were a married couple who had omitted to disclose to Work and Income that they were living together. The aggravating features of the first defendant's offending were the extent of the loss ($193,642), and the lengthy period of offending. The Court set a start point for sentence of two and a half years' imprisonment, with a 25 per cent discount for guilty plea. The final sentence was eight months' home detention with postdetention conditions and 100 hours' community work. With regards to the second defendant, the aggravating features were the extent of the loss (he had gained over $150,000), the long period of offending, the significant breach of trust, planning, premeditation and repetitive offending. From a starting point for sentence of two and a half years imprisonment, the second defendant earned a 25 per cent credit for guilty plea, and the final sentence was eight months' home detention with post-detention conditions plus 100 hours' community work. Judgment Date: 4 April 2019.