Woman admits stealing $472k

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 11:58 04/07/2014

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The Crown wants a detailed report ahead of sentencing on the assets and income of a 41-year-old Christchurch woman who has admitted stealing almost half a million dollars.

According to the police's summary of facts, the woman has not told them where the money went.

The Crown puts the total theft at $472,900.

The woman today pleaded guilty to 10 charges of theft by a person in a special relationship from Perpetual Trust Ltd and from accounts, trusts, and estates it administered.

Judge Stephen O'Driscoll then ordered the detailed report under the Sentencing Act.

The Crown had made a request for the court to order the report.

Judge O'Driscoll warned the woman not to provide incorrect information, or withhold information in the assets report.

"It would not be in your interests to attempt to provide incomplete or wrong information. That in itself is an offence."

The judge granted suppression of the woman's name until the issue can be fully argued at her sentencing in October.

Reports from a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist were placed before the judge by defence counsel Pip Hall QC.

"There are concerns over her well-being," Hall told the judge.

The court did not suppress the name of Perpetual Trust but it did suppress the names of the various trusts, estates, and accounts that the woman accessed to make transfers or ATM withdrawals over several years.

Prosecutor Karyn South said the Crown took a neutral stance about name suppression at this stage, though it would oppose it at sentencing. It also believed that the woman could be granted bail pending sentencing to facilitate the sale of a home.

The home is now on the market and due for a deadline sale, which the court was told may mean $100,000 would become available for a reparation payment.  

The Crown raised the question of whether some payments had been made to a trust the woman was involved in.

The woman was remanded on bail for sentencing on October 15, with the judge ordering the assets report, a reparation report, pre-sentence report, and victim impact statement.

He said he was satisfied from the reports he had been shown that interim suppression should be allowed.

But he told the woman: "It is an extremely high threshold for the court to make a final suppression order, particularly in light of the nature and number of the charges, and my advice to you is to prepare yourself for your name to be published."

It was in everyone's interests for as much reparation as possible to be paid to the victims. Granting bail ahead of sentencing would substantially help with that process.

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"Clearly any order for reparation has to be realistic," he said.

He ordered the Crown to provide the defence with details of the assets, incomes, and liabilities it wanted to know about, and the defence to reply with the information by the end of August. That will give six weeks for any further questions to be considered before sentencing.

Judge O'Driscoll told the woman: "The fact that I have granted you bail today should not be seen as an indication of what the likely outcome will be on October 15."

- The Press

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