Mother forges signature of Queenstown father’ for baby’s French citizenship

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A Frenchwoman forged the signature of her former Queenstown partner to get French citizenship for her baby in a bizarre custody saga.

Queenstown District Court today heard that Vanessa Nathalie Harmide’s now-ex-boyfriend discovered he was not the baby’s biological father till after her offending in 2011.

Harmide, 28, today pleaded guilty to a charge of inducing the French Embassy to accept a French translation of her daughter’s birth certificate and a charge of inducing the French Embassy to accept a French passport in her daughter’s name in January 2011. A charge of perjury was withdrawn.

The court heard that the couple ended their two-year relationship in January 2011, and at that time, Harmide began getting necessary documents together for her baby girl to travel overseas and become a French citizen.

On January 28, 2011 Harmide asked her ex-partner to sign a document that enabled the baby to be registered with the French Embassy. He signed it and the document was sent to the French Consulate.

The pair then became embroiled over custody of the baby, during which time Harmide applied to the court for permission to travel overseas.

At the time, the man – still thinking he was the father – did not want Harmide to leave New Zealand with the baby.

“Unbeknownst to [the man], the defendant obtained and completed an application for a French passport for [the baby] dated January 3, 2011,” prosecuting sergeant Ian Collin told the court.

“The defendant did not seek the complainant’s approval, which was a requirement for the documents to be accepted and instead the defendant simulated [the man’s] signature on both documents and sent them to the French Consulate to be processed.

“When spoken to by police the defendant insisted that [the man] had signed the applications but that he was drunk when he did so, so probably could not remember signing them.”

The man thought he was the biological father until recently, Collin says.

Harmide is living in Cromwell with another New Zealand man, who she now has a baby with.

Judge Kevin Phillips says he felt sympathy for the man involved.

“He would have totally bonded with the child as if he was the child’s father.

“You decided what you wanted to do, when you wanted to do it and as you wanted to do it,” he told Harmide.

“This type of offending, in my view, strikes at the whole procedural regime relating to passports, visas, and so forth. You didn’t accept your culpability at all.”

He sentenced her to 150 hours’ community work for each charge, to be served concurrently.

Boozy burglary

Two Queenstown teens who broke into a Sofitel penthouse and stole 10 bottles of liquor have been convicted.

Jacob James Forde, 17, and Taylem Anthony Matthews, 18, today admitted a charge of burglary from an incident on March 5 and 6.

The court heard that Forde and an associate went into the hotel earlier that day, using elevators and stairs to travel between floors, eventually coming out on to the rooftop via a fire escape.

They left after smoking cigarettes and returned to the hotel at 11.30pm.

Matthews and Forde entered a bedroom at the top of the hotel and found 10 unopened bottles of spirits on the bench. They took all 10 bottles, Sgt Collin says.

While leaving the hotel they discovered security cameras in the hotel so pulled their hoods over their heads to disguise their identities and hid the bottles under their clothing. Matthews discarded two bottles at Sofitel during the process and the pair hid the remaining eight bottles at the Recreation Ground.

The spirits are valued at $240.

When spoken to by police, Forde initially denied taking the bottles while Matthews admitted his actions.

Judge Phillips called their actions “serious planned burglary”.

He called for pre-sentencing reports for both teens. Matthews’ report will canvas options of community and home detention while Forde is possibly facing a “very large” sentence of community work.

‘Random street violence’

Fernhill teen Jimmy Clapham has been sentenced to 70 hours’ community work for assaulting a man who told him off for peeing in public.

Clapham, 18, admitted one charge of assault stemming from an incident outside the Night n’ Day store on Camp Street on March 23 at 2.45am.

Clapham was urinating in a bush when a man walked past and told him he shouldn’t be doing such a thing, Sgt Collin told the court.

Clapham thought the man was a tourist and began arguing about whether he was a “local” or not. Clapham pushed the man to the ground and then punched another man who stepped in to intervene. He then returned to his first victim, punching him again and pushing him up against the Night n’ Day entrance doors. The man received a sore head, bruising to his thigh and a sore arm.

Duty solicitor Phena Byrne told the court that Clapham accepts his behaviour is unacceptable but he “felt intimidated” by the two men – unknown to each other – who approached.

Judge Phillips did not accept Clapham’s excuse.

“It’s just a nonsense in my view,” he says.

“It’s random street violence. Let me make it known to you and your friends and associates – that type of violence will not be accepted in any place in New Zealand, or in Queenstown where this type of offending is endemic.”

Clapham was also ordered to pay his victim an emotional harm reparation of $400.

Drink-driving

Vanuatu man Ben Nawia, 23, seasonal worker, Cromwell, drink driving, 946mcg, Barry Avenue, May 2, fined $900, court costs $132.89, disqualified for 10 months. As a result of his offending, Nawia has lost his job and must leave the country, unable to ever return to New Zealand. “He is ashamed that he has brought his community and his employer into disrepute by his actions,” duty solicitor Steve Turner says.

Courtney Louise Feaver 20, Wanaka, drink driving, 518mcg, Ardmore Street, April 27, fined $500, court costs $132.89, disqualified for six months.

Englishman Andrew Michael Adams, 31, living in Queenstown, electrician, drink driving, 105mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, Frankton Road, October 6, 2012, fined $600, court costs $132.89, $130 medical and analysts fees, disqualified for six months.

Benjamin William Shannon, 27, Masterton, drink driving, 483mcg, Muir Road, April 27, fined $475, court costs $132.89, disqualified for six months.

Driving while disqualified

Benjamin Norris Temperton, driving whilst disqualified (fourth conviction for that offence), February 1, 2012, in Little Wanganui. Convicted and remanded for sentencing on June 4. Judge Phillips indicated a full-time custodial sentence would be likely.