Batemans Bay bushfire 'fraudsters' gave charities fake addresses: court

Arrested: Michael Brodribb is loaded into a police paddy wagon outside his Surf Beach home on Thursday. Picture: NSW Police

Arrested: Michael Brodribb is loaded into a police paddy wagon outside his Surf Beach home on Thursday. Picture: NSW Police

Two South Coast residents accused of ripping off thousands of dollars from bushfire charity groups in separate swindles have been granted conditional bail in Wollongong Local Court.

Police will allege Kelly Anne Percy and Michael Brodribb, both of whom live in at different homes in Surf Beach, near Batemans Bay, gave fake addresses and information to the Red Cross, Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul Society in a bid to fraudulently gain emergency relief grants in the wake of the January bushfires.

In Percy's case, police will allege she made a total of five fraudulent claims during January and February this year - two in which she allegedly listed her address as a five-acre property at Malua Bay that had been completely razed by the fire.

In the remaining three applications, police will allege Percy listed her correct address - in Surf Beach - but repeatedly lied about the state of the property.

Police arrest Kelly Percy at her home on Thursday. She is facing five counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception. Picture: NSW Police

Police arrest Kelly Percy at her home on Thursday. She is facing five counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception. Picture: NSW Police

In one application, the 38-year-old allegedly said the back fence at the Surf Beach home had been burned and she'd been forced to evacuate for four days, while in another application she allegedly claimed the entire house had been destroyed by fire. In truth, the house remained intact and was never damaged by the fires.

Percy received a total of $7,500 in payments from the charity organisations through her alleged lies.

Meanwhile, around the same time, Michael Francis Brodribb, 46, attended the Disaster Recovery Centre at Batemans Bay and lodged an application with the Salvation Army seeking an emergency payment.

It is alleged Brodribb falsely claimed he lived at his parents' house in Surfside (a suburb north of Batemans Bay) rather than listing his own address in Surf Beach (south of Batemans Bay).

He claimed he'd been evacuated from the Surfside property for three days and when he returned discovered it had suffered smoke damage, leading to loss of electricity and spoilage of food.

The Salvation Army have him an immediate $500 cash payment and three gift cards worth $30 each, police said.

Brodribb made a further application to Vinnies a few days later, again naming his parents' address and listing damage to the property. He received a $2,000 grant.

Police will allege they are well aware of Brodribb's real address in Surf Beach, having attended there many times since Brodribb moved in in August 2019.

Police arrested Percy and Brodribb at their respective addresses on Thursday morning. Percy was charged with five counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception, and Brodribb two counts of the same.

Percy and Brodribb must report to police three times a week as part of their bail conditions, while Percy - who the court heard was a regular methamphetamine user - has the additional condition of remaining drug and alcohol free while on bail.

Brodribb's matter will return to court on June 22, while Percy's case will return to court on July 13.

This story Batemans Bay bushfire 'fraudsters' gave charities fake addresses: court first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.