Quake stresses led to forgery, frauds

July 30, 2015 | By More

RoadconesStresses arising from the Christchurch earthquakes have been blamed for a flurry of quake fraud and forgery offending by a woman with a history of mental instability.

The 44-year-old woman has been convicted and discharged after admitting making false claims for quake repairs.

She was discharged and granted name suppression after Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll considered medical and psychiatric reports arranged for her sentencing by defence counsel Pip Hall QC.

She was diagnosed as having a borderline personality disorder with features of “hypomania and depression at times of extreme stress”.

The offending arose in the stressful times during the worst of the Christchurch earthquakes.

The woman pleaded guilty last year to charges that between September 2010 and March 2011 she forged various documents with intent to obtain a financial advantage, and that she knowingly used the forged documents as if they were genuine.

The charges relate to claims for work done on properties the woman owned in Christchurch. The claims amounted to several thousand dollars, but were not paid out after an EQC Claims Review Team investigation.

She was also found guilty of charges of forgery and using forged documents after a defended hearing. One charge related to a tenancy agreement.

Prosecutor Anselm Williams said that after reviewing the medical reports the Crown would accept a conviction and discharge for the woman and would not challenge name suppression.

Judge O’Driscoll said it had been the practice of judges to impose significant deterrent sentences on people who tried to fraudulently and dishonestly benefit from the tragedy of the earthquakes.

He said the woman had no previous convictions, had not benefitted from the offending, and it was understandable owing to her mental state. “You had impaired capacity and diminished responsibility at the time of the offending.”

He accepted the doctors’ views that the case warranted final name suppression.

 

Category: Focus

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