JOHN GOMEZ

Woman steals thousands while impersonating housemate

TANIA May Wilcox betrayed a friend's trust by borrowing her identity to steal $6416.42 from Centrelink, two finance companies and the friend's own bank account, as well as from "an innocent by-stander" who had not been paid for furniture Wilcox purchased.

Gympie magistrate M Baldwin said Wilcox, 42, had engaged in "protracted offences over two months, continuing to betray trust on multiple occasions.

"The offences are difficult to comprehend, to specifically plan and carry out such acts of deception against someone who was supposed to be a friend," Mrs Baldwin said.

"You completely breached the trust of this friend to go online to Centrelink and obtain an advance on her pension.

"You then went to a credit company and obtained a loan and repeated that at another finance company.

"Then you embarked on using her ATM card willy-nilly. Even possibly legitimate grocery purchases at the Imbil Store also included cigarettes as well.

"You had no regard for anyone else.

"Then there was an innocent bystander selling a sideboard and you did not pay.

"The courts have held that stealing as a servant must be punished seriously because of the breach of trust, but here also is a breach of trust. In view of the number of charges, there is no reasonable alternative to jail."

Wilcox pleaded guilty to 22 charges alleging fraud, false impersonation involving her house mate and breaches of bail.

She did so by video link from prison, where she will stay until a September 9 parole date, leaving her with another seven months' prison suspended for two years.

Mrs Baldwin said jail was called for after Wilcox took "such advantage of people who placed their trust in her". Wilcox had also "attempted at every instance to thwart justice by not appearing in court to answer the charges."

The court was told Wilcox had claimed a range of illnesses to excuse her non-appearances, including glandular fever, gastroenteritis, mood disorder and a bi-polar condition.

Renee Pilcher
Gympie Times

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