A life coach who defrauded a vulnerable client of $200,000 with "deplorable and immoral" behaviour has avoided jail by selling her home and paying back her victim with interest.
Dianne Lesley Wood, 53, of New Plymouth was found guilty at a defended hearing in August of falsely telling the client that she needed $200,000 or she would be taken to court and her home sold.
Her client loaned her the money but Wood had not repaid it.
During sentencing in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday, Wood was given 125 hours community work.
The victim, who was in the courtroom, described in a written impact statement how for 12 months she became a physical and emotional wreck as a consequence of Wood's actions.
She was now getting help to rebuild her confidence.
For Wood, defence counsel Paul Keegan said his client had paid her victim back a total of $262,000 after selling her home.
The amount included the initial $200,000 loan plus interest and penalties.
The effect of the court case and the level of publicity had seen her in very reduced circumstances, Mr Keegan said.
Her actions in asking for a loan from her client had been deplorable and immoral and an abuse of the relationship but were not criminal, Mr Keegan said.
The straw which broke the camel's back was a text that she had a court order saying she would lose her house.
This was incorrect.
However the situation wasn't without some substance because Wood's former husband had threatened to kick her out of the house.
The case would not have got to court if Wood had stumped up earlier, Mr Keegan said.
In sentencing, Judge Allan Roberts said police had called for a prison sentence and he had told her prison would follow if reparation was not made.
The judge accepted Wood had been under pressure to sell her home and she did not get what she expected.
He also accepted Wood was remorseful.
"With the repayment it is only right and proper prison is avoided."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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