Mandurah man avoids jail over Centrelink fraud

Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.
Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

A Mandurah man has avoided immediate imprisonment on Tuesday after he admitted claiming more than $20,000 in Centrelink benefits he was not entitled to. 

Manual William Hihepa Cook pleaded guilty to obtaining financial advantage when he appeared in the Mandurah Magistrates Court. 

Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecutor Shezah Arif told the court the 42-year-old had claimed more benefits than he was entitled on 65 occasions, on 25 occasions he under-claimed and on some he did not claim at all. 

Cook’s lawyer told the court the father-of-two did not know how to report earnings and claim properly. 

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She said he had prior good character, positive prospects for rehabilitation and was remorseful. 

Magistrate Anne Longden told the court the community was “fed up” with this type of offending.

However, she took into account Cook’s prior good character and rehab prospects. 

Cook was ordered to pay $2000 and would serve a six-month recognisance release order – to be of good behaviour for six months or else he would be sent to prison.