A magistrate says a Warrnambool woman who rorted a scheme supporting those hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic deserves nothing less than a prison sentence.
Louise Gavin, 40, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court last week to obtaining property by deception, attempting to obtain property by deception and other unrelated drug offences.
The court heard Gavin repeatedly provided false employment details in order to obtain a COVID-19 test isolation payment of $450.
She first applied on August 16, 2020, using her own identity and indicating she lost work doing "home duties" while awaiting a COVID-19 test result.
She obtained the $450 payment five days later.
Gavin made similar applications on September 16 and 30, claiming she worked on a farm in the Toolong area and as a house cleaner. A further $900 was deposited in two transactions.
Further unsuccessful attempts were made on 14 occasions between August 22 and November 8.
Gavin, who was unemployed, listed various fake jobs including home hairdressing, milking cows, childcare, and "fruit and veg".
She provided dozens of names of people purporting to be her employee, including a Warrnambool resident who didn't know the offender but whose wallet was stolen some weeks earlier.
Gavin was not charged in relation to that theft.
She netted $1350 in the deceptions.
Gavin also pleaded guilty to possessing 2.95 grams of methamphetamine and two grams of cannabis on June 1 last year, and a further 1.7 grams of cannabis on March 15 this year.
Damian Fragapane, representing Gavin, said his client had spiralled into a life of offending after the loss of her long-time boyfriend in 2006.
He said she suffered depression and anxiety, and had self-medicated with methamphetamine for a decade.
Mr Fragapane said his client had served 45 days in custody on remand, of which 18 was spent in quarantine.
He said Gavin conceded the offending was serious but noted she gave one of the three successful payments to a friend.
On Thursday, magistrate John Lesser said the deception offences were "very serious charges which require nothing less than a prison term".
He jailed Gavin for 75 days and counted her time on remand as already being served.
Gavin will be released on a 12-month correction order with 100 hours of unpaid work, supervision and treatment for mental health and drug abuse.
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