News

Grantham woman jailed for $142,000 flood fraud

Christine Blackmore.
Christine Blackmore. John Farmer

A GRANTHAM grandmother has made an emotional plea for leniency after she was found guilty of fraudulently claiming more than $142,000 in flood relief.

It was not enough to save 56-year-old Christine Blackmore from a three-and-a-half year jail sentence though, when she appeared in Ipswich District Court yesterday to answer for the crime.

Blackmore was given the chance to address the court before her punishment was handed down by Judge Sarah Bradley.

A jury had earlier this year found Blackmore guilty of three fraud-related offences after she dishonestly obtained $142,763 from the Premier's Disaster Relief Fund.

In a teary address to the court, the grandmother of six said she had owned a house and a shop in Grantham which had been destroyed in the 2011 floods.

With the help of a case worker, Blackmore said she lodged a flood relief claim and was grateful when she received $40,000 in funding to help rebuild her life.

"I was surprised to receive what they called a 'top-up' of more than $100,000 when it appeared in my bank account months later as I hadn't completed a form," she said.

"I was thankful for it though, and used the money - as well as a bank loan of $200,000 - to rebuild my little shop and home."

Blackmore said she had also done what she could to help other flood victims in her community.

She said she was "shocked and surprised" when she was later charged with fraud on January 22, 2013.

The court heard Blackmore had made false declarations in her flood relief application, which resulted in her obtaining more money than she was entitled to.

Her charges included dishonestly gaining a benefit worth more than $30,000, forging a power of attorney contract with the intent to defraud and uttering a forged document.

Before she appeared in court yesterday, Blackmore had spent 87 days in jail awaiting a sentence for her crimes.

Blackmore said her time in jail so far had taken its toll.

"No one in my family, including myself, has ever been to jail before," she said. "It has brought such stress, sadness and pain - not only to me but to my family and friends.

"Sometimes I have to sleep on the floor of my cell due to overcrowding.

"I have had eight different cell mates who were coming down off drugs which is a very frightening, depressing and stressful experience.

"I have paid dearly for receiving money from the community to rebuild my life."

After considering the facts of the case, Judge Bradley said she was not in a position to find that Blackmore had been deliberately dishonest.

However, she said Blackmore appeared to be a person who could be "blind to reality" and capable of a "high degree of self-deception" and a lack of insight into her behaviour.

"These sorts of public funds depend on people being honest when they make claims upon them," Judge Bradley told Blackmore.

"If people receive money they are not entitled to, then others go without".

Judge Bradley said the dishonest claim seemed "out of character" for Blackmore but that general deterrence was an important sentencing factor. Blackmore will be eligible for parole on April 16, 2017, after serving 21 months in jail.

Topics:  fraud, grantham flood, toowoomba


Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Bread rises to the challenge at show

WINNERS: The Old Fernvale Bakery team show off their awards with owner Lyn Rose.

The old Fernvale Bakery are winners at the Queensland Baking Show.

New recruits kick start policing roles in Gatton

NEW COPS: Gatton’s newest police recruits Louisa Weightman and Daniel Blewitt.

Constables Louisa Weightman and Daniel Blewitt are in town.

Otis Ogg is back on Somerset Council

Somerset Regional Council councillor Otis Ogg.

Otis Ogg is all for the Somerset Region.

Latest deals and offers

Record show entrants at Esk

THE Esk show society received record-breaking show section entrants at their annual show on Saturday.

Bread rises to the challenge at show

WINNERS: The Old Fernvale Bakery team show off their awards with owner Lyn Rose.

The old Fernvale Bakery are winners at the Queensland Baking Show.

New recruits kick start policing roles in Gatton

NEW COPS: Gatton’s newest police recruits Louisa Weightman and Daniel Blewitt.

Constables Louisa Weightman and Daniel Blewitt are in town.

Otis Ogg is back on Somerset Council

Somerset Regional Council councillor Otis Ogg.

Otis Ogg is all for the Somerset Region.

Kirby takes on junior coaching role

Lockyer Valley Basketball Association coach and player Rhiannon Kirby.

Junior basketballers in safe hands.

Community asked to dig deep for Salvos

GIVING HOPE: Craig Harlum of the Lockyer Valley Salvation Army Corps distributing doughnuts.

Get ready for the Salvos to come knocking.

City’s most eligible bachelors go up for auction

Australia's favourite redhead twins and celebrity bachelors Stevie and Andy Mac will perform and be auctioned off at the Pink Hope Charity Male Auction Gala.

All women need to do is bid for the man who catches their eye

IBAC Evidence Police Bashing 5

Officers drag the woman back to her cell

In this video the woman drinks water from the toilet.

IBAC Evidence Police Bashing 4

In this video the woman asks for water as the tap in the room is broken

IBAC Evidence Police Bashing 3

In this video police continue their search and male officers are present despite...

Sale nears on last large block of land in Coolum

The 43.37ha property on South Coolum Rd has sold.

South Coolum Rd property to be land banked

Caloundra’s former Centrepoint Buffet site up for sale

FOR SALE: The home of the old Centrepoint Buffet

Restaurant fined for unhygienic practices closed months ago