A Queenstown mother has admitted making calls claiming to be
a sexual health worker in a bid to damage the reputation of a
teenage girl who was a rival to her daughter as both had
applied to study at two Dunedin high schools.
The 53-year-old woman, who was given interim name
suppression, appeared shaken when she appeared in the
Queenstown District Court yesterday.
The woman faces two charges of using a telephone for a
fictitious purpose under the Telecommunications Act, which
has a penalty of three months' imprisonment, or a $2000 fine.
Prosecutor Sergeant Ian Collin said the defendant applied to
St Hilda's Collegiate School and Columba College in May this
year for her daughter to be accepted in 2012.
"There is a very high demand for limited places at the
schools and a board makes a final decision" on candidates
towards the end of the year, Sgt Collin told Judge Kevin
The mother was aware another Queenstown teenager was also
applying for both schools about the same time, he said.
"In an effort to have her daughter accepted ahead of the
other student, the defendant made the fictitious phone calls
to both St Hilda's and Columba College, concerning the other
student's behaviour and that of her parents," he said.
The defendant called St Hilda's principal, Melissa Bell, on
August 2 at 1.30pm. The mother claimed to be "Anne-Marie
Thompson", a sexual health worker based in the Oxford Clinic
in Invercargill, and said one of the boarders needed support
The defendant then said she had made a mistake and she was
calling in relation to a prospective pupil. The mother went
on to name the prospective pupil, Sgt Collin said.
About 30 minutes later, the defendant called Columba College
boarding director Richelle Manson and identified herself as
"Anne-Marie Thompson", a nurse at the Queenstown Medical
The defendant claimed she had to make an appointment for the
prospective pupil and named her.
Sgt Collin said the woman called the college at 4.30pm, when
she knew Ms Manson had finished for the day.
The defendant gave staff member Glenys McDowell the same
false name and told her the prospective pupil "had a sexually
transmitted disease and that she was in a lesbian
relationship with another girl".
The suspicions were raised by all recipients of the telephone
calls. They found nobody named "Anne-Marie Thompson" working
at either the Oxford Clinic or the Queenstown Medical Centre.
The defendant was spoken to by police on August 26, but she
refused to make a statement and answered "no comment" to all
questions, Sgt Collin said.
Judge Phillips said he had enough information for a sentence,
but he called for a pre-sentence report and a psychiatric
The woman was convicted and remanded on bail until November