An Auckland man who owns a mortgage-free home in a pricey suburb and property in Paris was jailed after dishonestly claiming more than a quarter of a million dollars in benefits - including more than $104,000 in accommodation supplements.
And his appeal against the sentence was rejected.
In 2006 David Earle Harnett separated from his wife and returned from Paris, where he had been living, to New Zealand with his two young children.
On November 30 that year he applied for a Domestic Purposes Benefit, which was granted on December 8.
He then applied for, and was granted, a number of benefits, which were paid until October 30, 2016.
At the time Harnett was the sole owner of a mortgage-free property in Grey Lynn, which he rented out.
He was also the half-owner of a property in Paris.
Harnett never disclosed his property or the income he raked in from the Grey Lynn tenants.
Court documents reveal that he completed and submitted 34 documents to social welfare authorities that falsely stated he did not have any non-cash assets and/or cash assets and that he got no income from any other source.
READ THE FULL DOCUMENT HERE.
As a result, Harnett was charged with 11 counts of using a document dishonestly.
The benefit overpayment was assessed as $259,150.48, made up of:
• $1278.14 unemployment benefit
• $51,385.55 jobseeker support
• $194,987.99 accommodation supplement
• $35,112.86 temporary additional support
• $65,231.99 domestic purposes benefit
• $1153.95 hardship assistance
Harnett pleaded guilty to the charges, expressed remorse and repaid the money.
Court documents say he sold his share of the property in Paris for about $194,000 and his current partner advanced him the balance.
Harnett was jailed for two years and four months.
He appealed, saying it was "manifestly unjust" and should have been a sentence of home detention.
His appeal was heard in the High Court at Auckland and on May 23 Justice Timothy Brewer dismissed his bid.
"In Mr Harnett's case, his offending, once discovered, was ineluctable," he said.
"Accordingly, I find that an end sentence of two years and four months' imprisonment is not manifestly excessive.
"I add that had the end sentence properly fallen within the home detention range, I would not consider this an appropriate case for a sentence of home detention.
"This was serious and deliberate offending over a long period involving active steps on many occasions to dishonestly acquire a considerable sum of money.
"Deterrence and denunciation are to be emphasised."