A 23-year-old with autism spectrum disorder says he was denied the NDIS, so he defrauded the system out of almost $350,000 by pretending to mow lawns and maintain properties for people with disabilities. Mitchell Landry was sentenced to 16 months in jail followed by a three-year good behaviour order in the County Court of Victoria on Monday.
He had previously pleaded guilty to dishonestly causing loss to a Commonwealth entity and attempting to dishonestly cause loss to a Commonwealth entity.
He told a court-appointed psychologist he believed he should have been found eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a federal program that provides money for people with disabilities to spend on services they need.
“I knew I was eligible – and I thought, if I can’t get it that way, maybe I can get it this way,” he told the psychologist.
Landry created an ABN and a lawn and property maintenance business and started out doing legitimate work for people with disabilities in the Bendigo area.
Then, between June and September 2018, he accessed the accounts of 24 NDIS participants and created 22 false service bookings.
The NDIS participants didn’t know their accounts had been used to pay Landry and he never did the work.
He tried to rip about $500,000 from the NDIS but was only successful in $350,000 of his false claims, before the NDIS was tipped off to suspicious activity.
Justice Peter Kidd said it seemed “quite easy” for Landry to defraud the system.
The mother of one of his victims, who has a disability, told the court she felt “taken advantage of”, and couldn’t shake “trust issues when dealing with the NDIS” after her daughter was used as a pawn to steal from the government.
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“You did not register with the intention of defrauding the system,” Justice Kidd said to Landry.
“You seized the opportunity to cheat the system.”
Landry was diagnosed with high-functioning autism as a child and is mostly estranged from his family, spending his teens in state care.
“The effects of your autism and your experiences in state care continue to make it difficult for you to form close personal relationships,” Justice Kidd said.
“You are largely alone in making decisions.”
A psychologist found he was obsessed with money.
He displayed impulsivity and behavioural disinhibition due to his autism and had an average intellect.
The money he stole went towards three properties and a Mercedes Benz van, and Justice Landry said he was motivated by greed.
“I was always isolated from people,” Landry told the psychologist.
“I was always frowned upon in life, judged, and I have a disability. I saw that money and thought, maybe I can look like everyone else.”
He has repaid the money.

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