Gambler offered ‘last opportunity’ by judge

Having blown her family’s funds on gambling, a desperate Victoria Lee Cassidy advertised electronics, furniture and whiteware online.

There was only one problem — the items which ended up on Trade Me did not exist.

"It’s the sort of offence which is blatant; easy to commit, easy to detect," Judge John Strettell said.

The 31-year-old yesterday appeared before the Dunedin District Court having pleaded guilty to four charges of obtaining by deception.

Defence counsel Andrew Dawson said his client had overcome alcohol addiction but had replaced it by a penchant for gambling.

"She is now hardly gambling at all," he said.

Short of cash, Cassidy advertised a PlayStation 4 games console on the online auction site in January. The man who won it transferred $685 to the defendant’s bank account. But it was never sent.

It was easy money. From May  to July, Cassidy repeated the ruse three  times, advertising furniture, a washing machine and a fridge-freezer for sale.

Two of the victims were told to pick up the goods from specified addresses but later found the locations did not exist.

Cassidy told one man she would deliver the auctioned item to his home but never did.

The audacity of her offending even stretched to texting one victim posing as a delivery company, to ensure that person paid up.

"You required money urgently and you didn’t care how you got it. You, I suspect, deep down knew sooner or later you would face a court hearing . . . because it was a short-term answer to the problems that faced you," Judge Strettell said.

He noted Cassidy had been before the court as recently as last year on fraud charges.

On that occasion she was sentenced to community detention on 18 charges of dishonestly using cheques to score nearly $9000 of goods and services.

"It’s a disorder that eats at the heart of a family," the judge said of the defendant’s gambling problem.

Mr Dawson said Cassidy now had work as a housekeeper and was sharing expenses with her partner who had recently moved in with her and the children.

If she appeared again on fraud charges, she would  probably be sent to jail, he accepted.

Cassidy was sentenced to four months’ community detention, nine months’ supervision and was ordered to repay $1840.

"This really is a last opportunity for you," the judge said.

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