WorkCover fraudster made to pay

A MAN who suffered a knee injury while working as a driller has been ordered to repay WorkCover more than $45,000 in payments he received fraudulently.

David Charles Earle failed to advise WorkCover he had returned to paid work.

The 39-year-old Maryborough father earned $3735 during a seven-month period between October 2007 and May 2008.

He continued to receive WorkCover payments during that time.

Earle had set up business as a shoe repairer after being told he would never be able to work as a driller again.

Despite his low earnings, WorkCover prosecuted Earle for not advising he had started paid work.

Earle pleaded guilty in the Maryborough Magistrates Court to defrauding an insurance company and giving false or misleading statements.

Solicitor Scott Falvey, acting on behalf of WorkCover, said a prison term was warranted because of the significant sum of money involved.

$35,000 of the money Earle received was paid as wages while the remainder was paid to him for medical expenses.

Mr Falvey also asked for professional costs of $10,000.

Earle’s defence lawyer Rod Suthers said Earle had made no profit from his work.

Mr Suthers said Earle started repairing shoes for family and friends before taking on contract jobs from a Maryborough shoe store.

Earle had indirectly told WorkCover of his job but had not advised them officially, Mr Suthers said.

Under the relevant legislation, anyone receiving WorkCover benefits must advise of new employment within 10 days of starting the job.

Magistrate Neil Lavaring said it was clear Earle was not a blatant offender.

“But he didn’t notify as he should have done,” Mr Lavaring said.

Earle was sentenced to six months prison, fully suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to pay $45,651 restitution and $10,000 professional costs to WorkCover.

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