The wife of former NRL player David Fifita has been sentenced to jail for fraudulently claiming almost $50,000 in single-parent Centrelink payments but the magistrate has allowed her to be assessed for home detention.
Jade Robinson – also legally known as Jade Fifita – pleaded guilty in June to two counts of receiving financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity totalling $48,500 over almost five years from 2011.
In Gosford Local Court on Friday, magistrate Jennifer Price sentenced the 26-year-old mother-of-three to eight months’ imprisonment, with a three-month non-parole period, for misrepresenting her true circumstances.
However, she adjourned the matter until January so Robinson can be assessed for home detention, in which case she would avoid any jail time.
“To my mind, that would then cover the appropriate need for general deterrence,” the magistrate said.
Robinson sobbed as the sentence was read out and she was shielded by her husband, family and friends as she left court on Friday.
Court documents show she was in a relationship with Fifita before her first single-parent payment in September 2011 and married him in Thailand in October 2014, despite telling Centrelink their wedding was in April 2016.
The pair have three children, aged six, two and four months.
But Robinson claimed Centrelink benefits until May 2016, not including a period when she lived with Fifita in France while he played professional rugby league for Lezignan Football Club.
Her payments were reinstated in June 2013 when the pair returned to Australia and Fifita was signed to play for the Cronulla Sharks.
Fifita now plays for Wakefield Trinity in the English Super League.
His brother Andrew plays for the Sharks.
Ms Price said Robinson’s crime of non-disclosure was “consistent and persistent” and fuelled by her “desire to maintain an outward appearance of success”.
She noted Robinson felt competition to have well-dressed children, a new car and “keep up with others in social activities” and was not driven by narcissistic tendencies, rather “a dependency on the approval of others”.
The matter is due back in court on January 25.
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