Jail for bogus baby bonus

Bouvea Knights is taken into custody after she pretended to have had a baby and received $11,991 in benefits.
Bouvea Knights is taken into custody after she pretended to have had a baby and received $11,991 in benefits. Jocelyn Watts

A FRAIL young woman who fabricated a fake baby so she could cash in on Centrelink benefits will spend the next two months in jail.

In 2009 Bouvea Jacqueline Knights created a fake doctor’s letter claiming she had a baby, then sent the document to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in order to be issued with a birth certificate.

She used the birth certificate to get the non-existent child listed on her Medicare Card, then took both forms of identification to Centrelink to lodge a claim for benefits.

Knights received the Baby Bonus, Family Tax Benefit and Parenting Payments to the tune of $11,991.

The deception didn’t stop there.

When Centrelink sent a questionnaire to Knights’s mother to confirm various aspects of her living arrangements, Knights filled out the form herself and forged her mother’s signature.

Knights appeared in Maryborough Magistrates Court yesterday aided by a walking stick.

The court heard the 26-year-old suffered from cystic fibrosis, diabetes and depression and had recently recovered from a bout of pneumonia.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of making a false statement, two charges of forgery and one charge of obtaining financial advantage.

Commonwealth prosecutor Heather Cunningham said the offences were a planned and systematic course of conduct that warranted a term of imprisonment.

“She created a fictitious personality of a child in order to fraudulently claim payments,” Ms Cunningham said.

“No child existed.

“The defendant does not and has never had a child in her care.

“Her doctor indicated her health is deteriorating because she refuses to take medication and that she enjoys the attention from her declining health.

“She told the doctor she felt elated when she had money.

“She hasn’t demonstrated remorse and couldn’t explain her actions. This is a case of greed rather than need.”

Defence solicitor Travis George said Knights had complex physical and mental health issues.

He submitted that she should be released because her fragile health would make a stint in jail more difficult for her than it would be for the average person.

Magistrate Tom Killeen, however, disagreed.

He sentenced Knights to eight months in prison and ordered that she serve two months in jail before being released on a 12-month $500 good behaviour bond.

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