A distraught Queenstown mum is baffled why her young daughter became the victim of a “despicable” phone hoax allegedly conducted by another local mother.
The mum, who doesn’t want to be identified for her daughter’s sake, says her 13-year-old child is “terrified” after learning a well-known woman allegedly made malicious phone calls about her to two girls’ schools in Dunedin.
The accused appeared in Queenstown District Court on Monday on three charges of misusing a telephone.
She has been granted interim name suppression.
It’s alleged that on May 26 the woman used a phone to knowingly give a fictitious message to someone, saying the family “had created a lot of trouble in Queenstown, had committed financial fraud, the community hated them and there had been walkouts at school because of them”, court papers say.
The second charge says that on August 2 the same woman used the phone to say “that she was a sexual health worker and that [the daughter of the local family] had a sexually transmitted disease, was in a lesbian relationship with another girl and wanted her to make an appointment at the clinic”.
The third charge, also on August 2, alleges she used a phone to knowingly give another fictitious message, “that she was [the same]sexual health worker and that [the daughter of the same local family] needed support with treatment”.
The girl’s mum says she was first alerted to the situation by principals at St Hilda’s Collegiate and Columba College while applying for her daughter’s secondary school enrolment.
“[St Hilda’s principal] Melissa Bell told me that a family had rung saying they had to send their daughter to boarding school because my daughter had made their lives absolute hell, but that she couldn’t possibly go to the same school as my daughter,” she says.
“Then the principal proceeded to tell me that this person had rung saying she was so-and-so from the medical centre and that my daughter had sexually transmitted diseases.”
Bell confirms she received phone calls “which I was concerned about” and contacted police. Columba principal Elizabeth Wilson won’t comment because the matter is before the courts.
The mum – who’s known the accused for about 12 years and says their children are members of the same sports club – adds she can’t comprehend why someone could act that way.
“What a despicable thing to do,” she says.
She was forced to tell her daughter about the alleged calls after rumours sprang up at her school.
“It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve had to explain to my daughter. I’ve told [my daughter] to hold her head strong.”
The mum adds: “It’s been really horrible to [have to] hold my daughter’s hand to the [sports club venue] because she’s scared of the woman. She’s terrified of her.
“This has had such a negative impact on the community. It doesn’t make you feel good – in sports clubs you should be able to trust parents.”
The accused – who broke down and shook uncontrollably after appearing in court on Monday – entered no plea. She’s due to reappear on October 3, after a psychological report is completed.