Ex-AFL Star Ducks Jail Over Centrelink Fraud

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Footy Lord To A Dole Cheat

EX-AFL star goal kicker Aaron Lord has narrowly avoided jail after rorting almost $60,000 of Centrelink payments meant for the unemployed.

But Lord, 43, was ordered to repay every cent of the Newstart allowance he fraudulently claimed to beef up his wages.

Lord, who kicked 185 goals in 150 games for Geelong and Hawthorn between 1994 and 2003, made 73 false declarations that he had earned no income between August 2014 and December 2017. He also claimed he had no savings, when he had almost $29,000.

Lord pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court yesterday to three counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception. He wrongfully claimed $56,464.16 without declaring $172,439.70 earned from roles at the Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort, Australian Sports Nutrition, and the Trade Institute of Victoria.

Federal prosecutor Edwina Dane urged Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt to jail Lord.

“There are no less than 74 occasions when the accused has lied,” Ms Dane said, adding he selfishly took money meant for those who needed it more.

David Grove, for Lord, said his client had “the perfect rags to riches story”. He had gained a scholarship and became a professional footballer despite a troubled upbringing with alcoholic parents, and on retiring did a journalism degree and learned French, leading to a role as sports attache at Australia’s embassy in France.

But on returning home, he turned to a party life of drugs and alcohol. When his marriage broke down, his life spiralled out of control, causing him to lose all he had worked hard for, including his home.

“His life literally collapsed,” Mr Grove said.

Mr Klestadt said the crimes were serious enough to warrant prison time, but Lord had no criminal record, had pleaded guilty early, and had good prospects of rehabilitation.

“I accept that your life had fallen into disarray,” he said.

“From the sensation of your football career until things fell apart, the fragility of your life went unrecognized.”

He convicted Lord and put him on an 18-month Community Corrections Order, under which Lord must complete 150 hours of unpaid work and submit to alcohol and mental health treatment.

Lord now earns just over $600 a week from a job in the travel industry.

This article appeared in the Herald Sun on Fr 03rd May 2019, appeared on pg.7 and was researched by Rebekah Cavanagh.
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