Blackmail victim's life 'destroyed'

A blackmail and fraud victim has had his life "significantly destroyed" after losing $80,000 to a woman he met on a dating website.

Diane Louise Boyd, 47, repeatedly told the man tales of illness and burglary, and offered to help him pay his business and personal accounts.

The High Court at Christchurch today heard the man had lost $80,000, but his victim impact report to the court described much wider effects.

Justice John Fogarty referred to the man's life being "significantly destroyed" after he made contact with Boyd through the NZ Dating website.

It was not just the amount of money he had lost, but his business and his ability to live independently.

He had since moved back in with his mother, and had lost his self-esteem and had difficulty maintaining social relationships with his peers.

"It is because he feels such a fool," Justice Fogarty said at a sentencing where he imposed a four-year-and-two-month jail term on Boyd on a total of 120 charges.

Boyd had admitted one charge of blackmail, and others of obtaining by deception, dishonestly using a document, two of theft by a person in a special relationship, causing a loss by deception, theft, and theft of a motor vehicle.

The court heard that she had met the main victim online and then convinced him to provide her with furniture to replace items lost in a burglary, and to give her access to his computer so that she could help pay his accounts.

A long list of offending followed, including using online banking, bank cards and cheques dishonestly to obtain money.

When Boyd found what the police called "risque" photographs of the man on his computer, she turned to blackmail.

She admitted a charge of threatening him with disclosure of nude photographs and allegations of insurance fraud to make him hand over money and property.

He had ended up bankrupt.

Another victim had lost $48,000 and his credit rating had been affected.

The offending mostly took place in Invercargill but further charges allege offending in Ashburton, Christchurch and Richmond in Nelson.

The judge told Boyd: "Reading the list of charges does not do justice to the grief you have caused to the victims. You have essentially taken advantage of men who thought they were entering into a romantic and trusting relationship."

Boyd was described by defence counsel Serina Bailey as having a borderline personality disorder. She was well known to the mental health services.

Justice Fogarty described her as having "a propensity to mislead others and to fabricate circumstances to suit herself". But a psychologist had concluded that she did not suffer from a mental illness.

Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier said reparation totalled more than $100,000 but she had no information that Boyd had any assets, and making an order seemed futile.

Bailey said Boyd was a beneficiary who had no assets. She was not skilled and had no immediate job prospects after her release from prison.

Justice Fogarty told Boyd a psychologist had found that she was responsible for her actions, and capable of change. She was likely to benefit from treatment.

He urged her to get control of her gambling problem "so that you don't cause this kind of harm to other men in the future".

The Press