The identity of a well-known Queenstown mother who targeted a teenage girl in a vicious phone hoax will remain secret.
The 53-year-old housecleaner was sentenced today (Monday) in Queenstown District Court to 300 hours’ community work and two years’ supervision for two charges of misuse of a telephone.
The woman had previously pleaded guilty to phoning two private girls’ schools in Dunedin in an attempt to prevent the victim, a 13-year-old girl, from being accepted to the colleges next year.
The woman has a daughter the same age as the girl and they are in the same class at Queenstown Primary and are members of the same sports club.
The woman posed as “Anne-Marie Thompson”, a sexual health worker, and told staff at St Hilda’s Collegiate and Columba College that the girl “needed support”, that she had a sexually transmitted disease and was in a lesbian relationship with another girl.
Staff became suspicious and contacted medical centres – to find there was no such health worker with that name – and then the police.
The woman’s lawyer Phena Byrne read out a letter penned by the woman, which said she thought she was helping the girl but now realises it was wrong and that she’s sorry.
Judge Raoul Neave told the woman – who was sentenced on another criminal matter in 2008 – that her actions were deliberate attempts to manipulate the schools to the benefit of her own daughter and that the allegations were “scandalous”.
“You have done your level best to create a series of problems for somebody else. The effects on her will be long-lasting and I can only pray they won’t be permanent.”
There was an element of delusion to her behaviour but it’s unclear where delusion meets reality.
However, Judge Neave says a sentence of imprisonment isn’t appropriate: “It’s quite clear you suffer from very significant mental health issues yourself.”
In addition to the sentence, she has been ordered to pay $500 to the victim as a token for emotional harm.
Final name suppression was ordered because it could lead to the identification of the woman’s daughter and because her husband also has mental health issues.