Quake fraud spurred by drug addiction

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 17:05 23/10/2012

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A woman caught for earthquake insurance fraud was in the grip of a methamphetamine addiction at the time, a court has heard.

Marlanna Shelley Diana Harris, 28, began a 37-month jail sentence after her Christchurch District Court sentencing today.

Judge David Holderness said it was unrealistic to make an order for her to pay reparations totalling $43,000 for her latest round of offending, and he remitted $11,000 of traffic infringement fines she has built up.

Harris called "I love you" to a man in the public seating as she was taken to the cells.

Defence counsel Bryan Green said she accepted that a prison term was inevitable for the 13 latest dishonesty charges in a criminal history that dates back to 2001.

Green said she had "overcooked" her two earthquake contents damage claims, which included some legitimate claims.

She received only the first of them, for $16,159, and the other one was intercepted by her landlord.

"She accepts she is an unsuitable mother at times when she's using drugs," he said.

Harris also got involved in a scam when an elderly woman was threatened with her power being cut off by a bogus company official because of her overdue account.

When the woman's bank account details were given over the phone, an internet banking arrangement was set up, and $19,000 was laundered through Harris' account.

She also admitted stealing a car, unlawfully taking one, and receiving one that had been stolen in Ashburton.

She bought two motorcycles using worthless cheques, and they had not been recovered.

Judge Holderness said: "It is evident you were in the grip of heavy P use and that you were drinking heavily also.''

He imposed a series of concurrent and cumulative jail terms totalling 37 months.

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- The Press

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