A Crown allegation that an accused ACC fraudster faked his medical symptoms to enable him to continue to receive compensation payments was "ludicrous", says his wife.
Lorraine Brennan, 55, hit back at the Crown allegation as she began giving evidence in the judge-alone trial of her and her husband, Grant Brennan, in Tauranga District Court yesterday.
The couple, who own Brennan Racing Ltd, are defending 88 charges of dishonestly using a document for pecuniary advantage. The charges relate to an allegation the Brennans defrauded ACC in relation to weekly compensation payments and attendant care payments, received between December 1999 and September 2011.
On April 24, 1999, Mr Brennan was assaulted by three youths while out running with his wife and son and suffered a head injury. The couple received ACC payments totalling more than $720,000 but the amount of any alleged overpayment depends on the outcome of the trial.
Mrs Brennan wept as she described the "dramatic changes" in her husband.
"It was tough. I had to look after Grant, look after two kids and I also had looked after my 18-month-old granddaughter, as well as trying to keep the business going. Grant completely changed. He was emotional, angry and frustrated and sometimes got violent."
Mrs Brennan said neither of them wanted to be on ACC. They lost customers and contracts. From the outset, they were upfront with ACC case assessors about her attempts to get her husband back to work by encouraging him to do "bits and pieces" of tasks within the business, she said. She had only been doing what occupational therapists and doctors encouraged her to do in the hope Mr Brennan would one day "return to normal" and resume full-time work. They "honestly believed" they were entitled to ACC. Mrs Brennan said, while she was doing some of the work and a number of people helped in-house, the rest was outsourced.
When defence lawyer Paul Mabey QC asked why they had let customers believe her husband was still working in the business, Mrs Brennan said they would have lost even more business. Mr Mabey told Judge Glen Marshall there was no proof Mr Brennan was faking it.
Mr Mabey put it to Mrs Brennan that some doctors had told Judge Marshall Mr Brennan was faking his symptoms and was a malinger. "It's ludicrous ... It's a ridiculous allegation," she said.
The trial continues today.