The hundreds of thousands of dollars taken by a cancer sufferer during decades of benefit fraud will never be paid back, a court has been told.
The Christchurch District Court heard on Friday that Diane May Pihama has cancer, but the prognosis is not bad.
Defence counsel Paul Johnson said the 68-year-old’s offending spanned more than 20 years, but she did not have a flamboyant lifestyle. Pihama told him that 90 per cent of the funds she took were sent overseas.
Jennifer North, representing the Ministry of Social Development, said there was no evidence that Pihama was making payments to a third party.
Judge Tom Gilbert said Pihama had been on a benefit for most of her life, and had received multiple benefits during many of those years.
Why has she been on a benefit most of her life? Has she never been able to work even part-time?
She had lived with her partner since mid-1993, but had not informed the ministry.
In that time, she received a sickness benefit of $22,923, an invalid’s benefit of $137,030, an accommodation supplement of $11,093, a disability allowance of $36,285, a transport access scheme of $34,965, an Internal Rate of Return subsidy of $106,815, and $6471 in superannuation payments.
Not bad work for fraud.