A bankrupt Feilding woman who was formerly a Kapiti Coast mortgage broker broke down in tears as she pleaded guilty to 27 charges of fraud.
Kerry Buddle, the former owner of Get Smart Mortgages and Insurance, operating under the umbrella of Kiwi Mortgage Market, initially pleaded not guilty and was due to go on trial next week.
In the Wellington District Court yesterday, her lawyer Marty Robinson told Judge Bruce Davidson that Buddle had changed her plea to guilty and he would be seeking restorative justice meetings with the victims.
Buddle sobbed quietly and was offered tissues by court security staff as each charge was read out.
The charges were a mix of theft and of obtaining by deception using a document.
Buddle has admitted persuading clients who had borrowed money to lend some of it to her. The court was told she defrauded victims out of more than $800,000.
The judge remanded her on bail and asked that a pre-sentence report and victim impact statements be taken before sentencing in July. He said that, while home detention would be considered, Buddle should not take it as granted.
Bail was renewed in order to allow her to attend restorative justice meetings.
Jenny Twist, who is owed about $35,000 by Buddle, said she was "over the moon" about the guilty plea.
"Finally her conscience has got the better of her, knowing she is in the wrong. I want her in prison because of what she has put all of us through, and to prevent it ever happening again.
"She put us through hell, leaving us struggling to live.
"Let's face it, she did not just steal an electrical item from a house, she stole people's houses and lives."
Mary Halvorsen lost her house as a consequence of lending money to Buddle, and was hugely relieved she had pleaded guilty. "It is wonderful news," she said, adding that police had done a great job.
Sergeant Jackie Muir, who has been in charge of the investigation, said it had taken a lot of time and effort, and it was very rewarding to be able to tell the victims Buddle had pleaded guilty.
"A lot of them have suffered over the years . . . not only financially but also emotionally from what happened."
- Manawatu Standard
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