Pokies-addicted mum jailed for $200k tax fraud
IT WAS an emotional goodbye in the courtroom as a mother was sentenced to prison for fraudulently gaining $200,000 from the Australian Tax Office through her phone store.
A court heard Justine Claire Ibbetson's pokies addiction motivated her to take a chance on deceiving the tax office using her store One Zero Coolum.
Across 13 months from March 2014, the 41-year-old mother claimed higher GST refunds from the tax office than she was entitled to.
Commonwealth prosecutor Grace Devereaux said Ibbetson lodged 11 deceiving Business Activity Statements in attempt to gain a total of $255,966.
She successfully obtained $200,533.
"On seven occasions, once she had received her initial refund, the defendant submitted a revised BAS for the same period topping up the refund that she had already received," Ms Devereaux said.
"The amounts the defendant fraudulently obtained ranged between $7044, that was count one, to $33,101, which is count nine.
"Her final attempt, which was blocked by the ATO, was in the value of $37,619."
When Ibbetson's home was searched, she told detectives that her MYOB accounting software had triplicated her business records.
An analysis of the software found no evidence to that claim.
"The fact of the revision of the BAS, it showed a disregard to the ATO and the Australian tax payer as the defendant was essentially accessing the ATO like a bank account," Ms Devereaux said.
At Maroochydore District Court yesterday she pleaded guilty to nine counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception and two counts of attempting to gain a financial advantage by deception.
Defence barrister Simon Lewis said Ibbetson had worked for Telstra for years before starting her own business and the offending was motivated by a gambling and alcohol addiction.
He said her marriage broke down as a result and she had been seeking help through Relationships Australia.
"I don't know if I can cover it too much more - it is what it is," Mr Lewis said.
Judge Glen Cash considered Ibbetson's offending was persistent and totalled a substantial figure.
"Ms Ibbetson was a perfectly ordinary member of our community and she's got herself addicted to poker machines and it's all gone wrong," he said.
Ibbetson was sentenced to two years and six months' jail, to serve 10 months.
Her 19-year-old daughter supported her in the courtroom, sending her off with a teary goodbye.