Mum to avoid jail despite fraud

A BUNDABERG enrolled nurse who defrauded Centrelink of more than $22,000 narrowly escaped serving jail time because she is the sole carer of her son, who suffers from an intellectual disability.

Sharon Josephine Eaton, 45, was charged with one count of obtaining a financial advantage after she received more money in her social security payments then she was entitled to.

Eaton claimed the wrong social security payments during a two year and five month period from 2005 to 2007.

Magistrate John Smith said during sentencing the only reason Eaton was not going to prison was because she was the only person in Bundaberg who could look after her son.

“You must have realised that if you got caught, it could affect (your son) and your employment,” he said.

“You don’t have to be Einstein to work that out.”

The court was told Eaton’s son suffered from Fragile X Syndrome and defence lawyer Thomas Bray said her on-going carer responsibilities were “quite costly”.

“If she was a person able to pay restitution she would — certainly it is her intent to see her debt satisfied,” Mr Bray said.

Mr Smith said the circumstances surrounding the charge did not lessen the defendant’s criminal intent.

“It’s calculated (behaviour), to achieve that sum,” he said.

Mr Bray said his client was depressed at the time of the crime and was making bad decisions because it was a “difficult time” in her life.

The court was told she was a qualified person who had maintained constant employment.

“If she’s given a term of actual custody that would be the end of her employment,” Mr Bray said.

Mr Smith gave Eaton a nine-month prison sentence to be served as a three-year good behaviour bond.

She had already paid more than $4500 back to the Commonwealth through default payments.

Mr Smith ordered she pay restitution of more than $17,000.

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