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Home detention for "wheelchair bound" claimant

Home detention for Ashburton man who presented himself as wheelchair-dependent to prolong ACC cover

An Ashburton man has been sentenced for fraudulently receiving ACC assistance after he presented himself as wheelchair-bound at medical appointments, but was seen driving and walking unaided during his everyday activities.

Leslie Tamateatu Urquhart-Barrett, 55, was sentenced to seven months’ home detention, and ordered to pay $4,031.21 in reparation; $960 in prosecution costs, and $2,070 in witness expenses when he was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court on 12 February.

Urquhart-Barrett, a truck driver, injured his back and shoulder in a workplace accident in 2006. He received weekly compensation until August 2010.

After complaining of mobility restrictions in 2008, Urquhart-Barrett underwent surgery, and received home help and the use of a wheelchair. He continued to provide ACC with medical certificates stating that he was unfit for work.

Growing concerns from Urquhart-Barrett’s case manager led to an investigation being undertaken in 2010, during which Urquhart-Barrett was seen driving his car and walking unaided, although he continued to use his wheelchair when attending medical appointments.

Urquhart-Barrett did not inform ACC that he only used his wheelchair for meetings, preventing ACC from correctly assessing his appropriate level of rehabilitation and assistance.

Urquhart-Barrett was aware that he had a responsibility to advise ACC of any change in circumstances, and acknowledged his signature on the ACC165 “Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities” form.

ACC’s General Manager of Claims Management, Sid Miller, says it is always disappointing when people choose to abuse the ACC Scheme for financial gain.

“ACC collects levies to help people with genuine injury-related needs. Mr Urquhart-Barrett’s offending therefore amounts to theft from honest, hard-working New Zealanders.”

Mr Miller adds that “ACC has a dedicated Investigations Unit, which follows up all tip-offs received about possible fraud. The unit is committed to ensuring appropriate action is taken when anyone is found to be defrauding ACC.”


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