Monday, 28 April 2008

Elderly gambler avoids jail over welfare fraud

An elderly woman who pretended for seven years that her mother was still alive to collect her pension has avoided jail.

A court heard that Eleonora Spiniello, 72, from Fulham Gardens in Adelaide became addicted to poker machine gambling after her mother died in 1999.

She stole nearly $82,000 by failing to tell welfare authorities of the death.

Spiniello was jailed for three years but had the sentence suspended.

District Court Judge Gordon Barrett took account of the woman's age, medical history, her early guilty plea, efforts to pay back the money by selling her house and her having to care for a violent father.

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