Conwoman continues fight for suppression

March 7, 2017 | By More

An accomplished con-woman has been given an extra two weeks to sort out the grounds why she should be allowed name suppression, while she awaits sentencing on two fraud charges.

Justice Rachel Dunningham was in mid-sentence of dismissing the name suppression appeal this morning when the 30-year-old woman arrived at the High Court.

After she filed her own appeal papers in January, her previous defence counsel Kiran Paima had withdrawn from the case, and her new defence counsel Glenn Henderson had heard nothing from her before she arrived at court today.

Mr Henderson had the case stood down to take instructions from her and then returned to the court to say that there appeared to be two issues on which she could put forward a name suppression appeal.

He explained what those issues were, but those details were also suppressed by the judge.

The judge said she did approach the matter “with some scepticism”. Up to the beginning of the hearing “it seems there could nothing of face value before the court that could give any skerrick of a reason for name suppression to continue”.

Mr Henderson said the woman now understood that she would have to provide the necessary details to mount the appeal. “She is on notice that she is going to have to step up,” he said.

Justice Dunningham adjourned the appeal to March 21, to give time for the appeal to be prepared.

In the meantime, the woman’s District Court sentencing has been adjourned from later today until April 12. Restorative justice asked for that delay because they believed there was a possibility a meeting could be arranged between the woman and at least one of her victims.

The Linwood mother had pleaded guilty to two charges of obtaining $3495 by deception, in the Christchurch District Court on January 24, and then made an application for name suppression when she realised there was going to be media coverage, including publication of her photograph.

Judge Gary MacAskill refused to grant name suppression, saying there were no grounds to justify the order. However, the woman then filed her own papers for an appeal to the High Court and that meant the suppression was put in place until the appeal could be heard.

The appeal has already been delayed once, and has now been delayed again.

Police told the court in January, when she pleaded guilty, that on December 18, 2015, at 5.15pm the woman was in Kiwibank’s New Brighton branch, when she approached the woman victim who was at the counter addressing mail.

She said she needed money urgently but the bank would not give her a loan because she had no identification. She said her identification had been burnt in a house fire.

She said her heat pump had exploded that morning and she had been awoken by a explosion at her front door. She gave the victim a fictitious address.

She said she had a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old son. One son was badly burned in the fire and was in Christchurch Hospital awaiting transfer to Starship Hospital.

She said her father had died in the Canterbury earthquake, her mother had passed away in November 2015, and her grandmother had just died.

She told the woman she had found another house but had no money and had spent her last $500 on the bond, and the landlord required another $2300.

Police said: “The victim took pity on her and said she would give her the money. She went to the counter and withdrew $3000 cash to cover the bond and food and gave it to the defendant.”

The defendant said she would pay the victim back on Christmas Eve when her inheritance would come through. They exchanged contact details.

That night, she phoned the victim and told her she was at Christchurch Hospital with her son who needed to be flown to Australia for treatment and she didn’t have any money. However, she did not ask for more money and the victim didn’t offer any.

On December 20, the victim received a text from the defendant saying she would give her all the money back in a few days. More than a year on, the victim had received no money.

When spoken to by the police, she confirmed she had been at the bank and the woman had given her $3000. But she denied the woman’s account and said the victim had told lies. She said she intended to pay the money back.

On March 11, 2016, she went to a woman’s house in Woolston, where she talked about a trip to Rarotonga. She said she had found cheap flights, and the woman gave her a cheque for $495 to pay for part of the flights.

The defendant cashed the cheque but bought no tickets. Instead, she paid the money to associates. The victim has not heard from her since. When interviewed by the police, the defendant said what she had done was wrong and she was embarrassed.

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