Elaborate ploy to steal exam papers

A woman hid in a cleaners' cupboard and under a bed until staff had gone home so she could steal nearly 100 exam papers from the University of Otago.

The 23-year-old appeared in the Auckland District Court this morning where she pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary.

Judge David Harvey granted her interim name suppression because of her "fragile mental health".

He said the facts of the case would "possibly be characterised as bizarre" and a police summary released by him provided details of the unusual crime.

The woman was a student at the university in Dunedin and sat an exam on November 7.

After she left the room three times to go to the toilet, staff became suspicious and checked the area, where they found handwritten notes.

When the papers were collected at the end, the defendant's paper was separated from the others.

"The defendant observed this and questioned the supervisor asking her if she was in trouble. She went on to say that she had seen notes in the toilet but denied they were hers," court documents said.

The exam papers were taken to the university registry, with the woman's stored on a separate shelf.

That afternoon, the defendant took a pair of rubber gloves, a hoodie and a balaclava and drove to the campus.

She hid in the registry office's cleaning cupboard and under a bed until staff had gone home and the building was locked up.

Using a steel bracket and other metal implements she smashed her way into various rooms in search of the exam papers, setting off silent alarms as she ransacked the offices, the summary said.

Eventually she found her paper and took 97 other exam scripts from subjects including dentistry, English, political studies and health.

She stuffed them all in a plastic bag, grabbed her belongings from the cleaners' cupboard and left through the main entrance.

Once home she changed her clothes and later drove to the suburb of Ravensbourne where she threw the stolen papers into the harbour.

"She then drove home discarding the footwear and clothing as she went," the summary of facts read.

She declined to comment to police and outside court today her lawyer Paul Davison, QC, said it would not be appropriate to speak about the specifics of her personal circumstances until sentencing.

No conviction was entered by Judge Harvey, leaving the door open for Mr Davison to make an application for a discharge without conviction.

The woman was remanded on bail and will be sentenced in February.








Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter