Scammer sorry for crime spree

Last updated 18:48 06/08/2012

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A scammer facing a jail term skipped her sentencing and continued with her crime spree, a court has heard.

Two victims of Nikki Lee Turner, 20,  were in the Christchurch District Court to see her jailed for two years and three months.

They had tried to help her or gave her somewhere to stay, and paid the price for their kindness.

In one of the Linwood homes where she stayed, Turner stole two envelopes containing $50 cash, which were Christmas gifts for grandchildren, and a jar of coins.

The total losses for all her offending were assessed at $8600.

"That does not include the debris she has left behind as she moved through people's lives when they tried to support her," defence counsel Carol Morgan said.

She told the court Turner asked that drug and alcohol treatment be made available as part of her sentence.

Facing an inevitable prison term in February, Turner went on the run and she continued to offend until she was picked up a few weeks ago and held in custody for sentencing today.

She had pleaded guilty to 43 charges, including thefts, frauds, breaches of community work and supervision, unlawfully taking a car and using offensive language.

Turner targeted elderly people by phoning them and pretending to represent a power company that was about to cut them off because they had not paid their bills, unless they made an immediate credit card payments. She then used the credit card details for her own purposes.

She got details from victims who were aged 87, 68, and 59. Some of the money was used for flowers worth $770, takeaway pizza, phone credit and food from cake shops.

Turner unlawfully took a car from a friend in Nelson and drove it to Southland, where she abandoned it with $900 damage.

She used her cellphone to text messages to a man who had lost a partner and child, saying the "worst things imaginable" to hurt him, said Judge Christopher Somerville.

After Turner skipped her sentencing in February to avoid a certain prison term, she repeatedly sold a plasma television set on Trade Me and never delivered it after money was paid into her account. The three sales totalled $2830.

She twice raided the bank account of her mother, who was in a coma in hospital. One transaction was stopped by the family, but the other netted her $770.

She pretended to be a Child, Youth, and Family social worker, using an account number to get taxi rides at the department's expense between Timaru and Christchurch to visit family. The rides cost about $500 each.

Turner had written a letter to the judge and she spoke to the victims in court before the sentencing.

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She said: "I know you did your best to help and I screwed yous over. My life has just got worse throughout. This is probably the best place for me at the moment. I threw it back in your faces, like I have done with basically everyone. I'm sorry."

Judge Somerville said she had victimised vulnerable people. The reparation he ordered would take about 10 years for her to pay back.

He said the victims in court knew that she needed help. "They also know that you need to help yourself."

- The Press

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