a judge hand striking a gavel over a table

Tony Beach’s client, a mother of a disabled son, was charged by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) with using a document (benefit claim forms) on two occasions to obtain a pecuniary advantage (a benefit for looking after her disabled son). The offence attracts up to 7 years imprisonment. The MSD alleged that, because another party was being paid a sum to care for the disabled man for a number of hours per week, the mother could not have been providing “full time care and attention” of her son as required by the conditions of the benefit. However, “full time care and attention” doesn’t require 24 hour care – only that the disabled son had 24 hour access to his mother’s care, which the defence asserted he did. Tony Beach obtained documentation from ACC through a non-party disclosure application which revealed the extent of the care and attention the mother provided for her disabled son. After a two day judge alone trial, the judge found that the mother acted honestly and “has done nothing more than endeavour to provide the best care for her son. It is clear that that care has been and continues to be an enormous burden”. The judge dismissed each of the charges.