Evidence ‘overwhelming’ in false claims case, says judge

RoadconesEvidence was overwhelming against a Christchurch landlord, said the judge who today convicted her of 34 fraud charges involving false claims to EQC for emergency quake repairs.

Sally Mengtung Ye, 50, today heard Judge John Macdonald give his verdicts on her seven-day Christchurch District Court trial, in which evidence and closing addresses finished 10 days ago.

She had denied all the charges of dishonestly using documents – false invoices, many with her notations about payments made – as well as one charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice by sending false documents to the court.

Judge Macdonald found her not guilty of the charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, but convicted her of all the other charges.

He said: “I found the evidence simply overwhelming, when it came to the fact that firstly the invoices were false, and secondly, that she must have created them.”

He remanded Ye on continued bail for sentencing on August 25. He asked for a pre-sentence report to cover her suitability for sentences of home and community detention.

Ye put in emergency repair claims for 12 properties owned by her, her partner, and her mother. One was her own property and the others were operated as rentals.

EQC said that $12,895 was paid out for the repairs, and $14,895 remained unpaid.

The Crown said the invoices related to five “entities” – companies or tradesmen – but only one of them had existed and it was not at the address on the invoice and had not traded under that name since 2006.

The police seized three of her computers and analysed the contents. An Electronic Crime Laboratory expert showed the court on-screen how one of the invoices had been created by scanning an old invoice and then putting new information over the top in text boxes. He was able to move the text boxes aside to show the document beneath.

Ye gave evidence at the trial, at one stage admitting that she had signed off one invoice as paid in the name “Andy” – the name of her cat. She then told the court it was a nickname she also used for herself.

She said she had paid people in cash for the repairs because that was what they requested. Some had been tenants who did work instead of paying rent. She told of some returning overseas, and none of them were called to give evidence at the trial.

Ye had a Cantonese interpreter assisting her at the judge-alone trial. Tim Fournier appeared as defence counsel; Marcus Zintl appeared for the Crown.

Judge Macdonald released his verdicts but said the detail of his decision would require further editing and would be issued in writing in a few days.

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