A former Tauranga woman with 27 previous convictions for dishonesty has been jailed for 12 months for defrauding Work and Income of nearly $27,000 in benefits.

Racquel Haina Kiwi, 38, was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to 12 charges.

That is, one charge of using a forged document, three charges of obtaining by deception and eight charges of using a document for pecuniary advantage.

Kiwi has a lengthy criminal record, including being jailed in 2005 for killing her 7-month-old son Jason in a drink-drive smash on Maungatapu Bridge in 2004.


Since then Kiwi has repeatedly been before the courts for other drink-driving offences and driving while disqualified, and had been sent to back to prison a number of times.

The benefit fraud charges related to Kiwi claiming Work and Income benefits she was not entitled to between September 30, 2013, and June 8, 2016, totalling $26,834.68.

That included her failing to tell the Ministry of Social Development she was working at Seeka Kiwifruit Industries for a period, and her children had left her care.

She also failed to tell Work and Income she had moved and was not paying rent.

Kiwi's offending also included her submitting a forged letter in support of her application to have her daughter included in her benefit, when the child was not in her care.

On eight further separate occasions, Kiwi also submitted other documents in which she had falsely declared her true living circumstances and who was caring for her children.

Kiwi's lawyer Phoebe Bromiley argued her client should be allowed an electronic-monitored sentence notwithstanding her extensive criminal history.

Kiwi, who had a long standing alcohol problem, and battled significant medical problems the past six months, could then continue to address her rehabilitative needs, she said.

"My client genuinely wants to make significant changes to her lifestyle, and she has been making some headway in doing that in the past six months," Bromiley said.

Despite the proposed home detention address been deemed unsuitable, Kiwi should be allowed more time to find another address acceptable to the court, she said.

Judge Thomas Ingram said home detention was "never" going to be appropriate .

"This is one of those rare cases where although the amount of benefit fraud was not substantial in relative terms, Miss Kiwi presents as someone, who has repeatedly been in trouble since she first came before the court in 1997.

"Her lengthy criminal history now runs to 10 pages, including 27 prior dishonesty convictions," the judge said.

Judge Ingram said there were also a large number of other types of convictions, and despite being given lots of chances to change her ways Kiwi continued to offend.