Home detention prostitute loses appeal

Andrea De La Hunt, aka Phipps, aka Wilson. Photo / APN
Andrea De La Hunt, aka Phipps, aka Wilson. Photo / APN
One of New Zealand's most notorious female fraudsters has lost an appeal against her jail term for working as a prostitute while on home detention.

Andrea De La Hunt, aka Phipps, aka Wilson, has a long criminal history, including a jail term for attempting to murder an ex-partner.

She has now racked up more than 130 convictions for dishonesty dating back to 2001.

The 41-year-old was sentenced to 12 months' home detention in November 2011 for a series of fraud offences, which saw her steal more than $35,000 from friends, neighbours, employers, and authorities.

De La Hunt, once described by a judge as being "addicted to money", posed as her mother-in-law in 2009 to secure a loan she used to splash out on a $30,000 Dorado powerboat, and on another occasion to buy a new $16,000 Holden Commodore.

About halfway through her sentence, she lied to her probation officer, saying she was working as a beautician for a Christchurch cosmetics company.

But in reality she had forged emails purporting to be from her beautician boss to satisfy her probation officer, when she was actually working as a prostitute.

She disguised her home detention electronic-monitoring bracelet as jewellery, a court previously heard.

De La Hunt pleaded guilty to a breach of home detention conditions and to four charges of dishonestly accessing a computer system by emailing false details to the probation officer, and was sentenced to two years and six months in prison.

She was later sentenced to 14 months prison on a forgery charge, to be served cumulatively.

But then she appealed against her sentence at the High Court in Christchurch. She argued that the district court judge failed to treat her bipolar disorder as a mitigating factor in sentencing.

De La Hunt also claimed that she should've got a bigger discount off her sentence for the level of compliance with her sentence of home detention; the fact she had "worked well"; and that the owners of the premises being used as a brothel knew about the nature of her work.

But in a judgement released to APNZ, Justice David Gendall dismissed the appeal.

He said there was no evidence before the court that suggested her most recent offending was caused in any part by her bipolar disorder.

"The notion too that she 'worked well' must be called into question here, given the fact that immediately she was granted leave to work as a beautician, she embarked upon her no doubt previously planned activity as an escort/prostitute. This ground also does not assist the appellant here," the judge said.

Justice Gendall concluded that the end sentences are "within range and not manifestly excessive".

Sour taste saved victim 

In 2002, when she working as a personal banker in Auckland, Andrea Phipps was convicted for trying to kill her partner, Darryl French.

While trying to avoid detection from bank bosses after stealing $52,000 from her cousin's account, and forging documents to try to draw $165,000 from another customer, she laced her partner's dinner with 16 sleeping tablets.

The tablets left a sour taste and Mr French left it unfinished.

She later put lavender oil on his pillow to help him sleep then poured petrol through their North Shore home. The blaze caused extensive damage but nobody was hurt.

She was jailed for attempted murder, theft as a servant, forgery, and arson but the sentence was reduced to two-and-a-half years after the Court of Appeal ruled the sentencing judge had not made sufficient allowance for her bipolar disorder.

APNZ hm

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