Woman stole from grieving family using Givealittle

A West Coast woman who set up a Givealittle page for a grieving family and then stole $2211 has been sentenced to home detention and community service.

The woman pleaded guilty to using a document to gain a pecuniary advantage. 

In the Greymouth District Court on Tuesday, she was granted final name suppression by Judge Kevin Phillips, who also suppressed the reasons.

She was sentenced to three months' home detention, 150 hours of community work and ordered to pay the outstanding balance of $261, having already repaid most of the money she stole.

Lawyer Richard Bodle said the woman had been prepared to participate in the restorative justice process, however the complainant had not.

"It was clearly a breach of trust for both the recipients and the donors, but the defendant had good intentions in relation to setting up the page," Mr Bodle said.

In the end she "succumbed to temptation".

"She was always going to pay the money back. She became concerned that the family the money was going to go to was not going to use it for the correct purpose, which is ironic as she used the funds for the wrong purpose," Mr Bodle said.

The woman was at a "low ebb" in her life at the time and felt "embarrassed" about the offending.

Judge Phillips described it was a "calculated fraud".

"She took the money to pay drug debts," the judge said.

She had offered to set up the Givealittle page to assist the family with funeral costs, having the benefit of the victim's bank account number and driver's licence details.

Having arranged for all the donations to be deposited into a family member's bank account, she then pretended to be the complainant and raided the account on October 4.

On November 20 she deposited more money from the Givealittle page into her account.

Four days later the victim, a family member, asked the woman about the money and was told she had not received any.

Judge Phillips said the victim then contacted Givealittle, and was told the money had been placed into her account.

"Peculiarly, on October 9 you used the complainant's name and date of birth to set up a power account and then on October 26 you used her identity to set up an internet connection."

The victim knew nothing about the accounts, but when no payments were made on the power and internet, she was visited by debt collectors and her credit rating had been lowered as a result.

When the woman was spoken to by police she declined to comment.

Judge Phillips said her actions had also put Givealittle into disrepute.

The probation report noted that the woman now had her methamphetamine habit in check, but Judge Phillips said he doubted that.

"You committed serious breaches of trust and have caused difficulty for the people who really need to use the Givealittle page," the judge said.

 

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