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VIC: handyman ordered to pay more than $150,000 for workers compensation fraud

Tuesday, 5 March, 2019 - 13:30
Incidents & prosecutions

A handyman in Frankston Victoria has been ordered to pay back more than $150,000 and handed a one-year suspended jail sentence for defrauding Victoria’s workers compensation scheme.

Jack Berry, 50, pleaded guilty in the Frankston Magistrates Court to two fraud charges for secretly working while claiming compensation from WorkSafe for a work-related back injury.

He was ordered to repay a total of $124,397.20 in compensation and $27,000 in legal costs.

The court heard that Berry’s offences stretched across more than two years, from August 2014 to October 2016.

During this period, Berry worked as a handyman under various business names: United Home Improvement, Gate Fencing & Metal Works and JB Home Improvement Team.

A WorkSafe investigation found 15 clients paid Berry a total of $88,225 for work including kitchen and bathroom renovations and fence, gate and retaining wall installations during this period.

At the same time Berry was submitting certificates to WorkSafe which stated he was unfit for work and had not engaged in any form of employment.

Surveillance video showed Berry lifting, moving, loading and unloading renovation materials.

During the execution of a search warrant at Berry’s home various business documents were seized, along with more than 70 boxes of unopened medication prescribed by his treating doctors.

Berry pleaded guilty to obtaining financial advantage of $91,158.80 by deception under the Crimes Act and was convicted and sentenced to 12 months gaol, wholly suspended for two years.

He also pleaded guilty to obtaining $33,238.40 in fraudulent payments under the Workplace Injury, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act for which he was convicted and released on a two-year adjourned undertaking.