'Wicked' woman facing deportation after jail term
A JUDGE has described a woman's actions where she fraudulently obtained the full title of a Mackay man's house and his much-loved car as "wicked".
She now faces deportation once released from prison after Rockhampton District Court Judge Michael Burnett yesterday sentenced the New Zealand citizen - Catherine Faye Campbell - to a six year and six months jail term with parole eligibility on March 27, 2021.
Campbell, 40, had fought against her seven charges of fraud, fraud over $30,000, three counts of provide false declarations and two of perjury during a two and a half week trial last month. The jury took only a few hours to reach guilty verdicts for all counts.
"Your conduct can only be described as wicked," Judge Burnett said.
Campbell fraudulently obtained the title of a McEwens Beach property and a Nissan Patrol belonging to Christopher Neil Butler who died on September 18, 2011. The land title transfer occurred two days prior to his death and the car was two months after his death.
She then lied in affidavits supplied before the Supreme Court of Mackay for a civil trial where Mr Butler's sisters Sue and Karen applied to be executors of Mr Butler's estate. Justice David North ruled in favour of Mr Butler's sisters in the civil trial.
Campbell's perjury charges were the result of evidence she gave at that civil trial.
The court heard during the trial that only Mr Butler and Campbell's names were on the title document when a Justice of the Peace witnessed it being signed by the pair.
The document shown to the jury showed two names added - those of Ms Campbell's now teenage sons - which were then struck out with pen and the words "The Campbell Family Trust" written underneath.
Campbell initially told the jury she found de-registration papers in the Nissan Patrol's glove box, already signed by Mr Butler. However, during her closing speech, she said the Department of Main Roads and Transport rejected that paper because it was covered in mud and she had to fill out a fresh document so she penned in Mr Butler's name where it asked for the owner's signature.
When Mr Butler's family took "forcible action" by trying to be declared the legal executors of his estate, Campbell tried to stretch was at least was evidently a nine-month housemate arrangement into a two-year one-month defacto relationship to meet the law requirements about claims on defacto's estates.
"The case against you was exceptionally strong," Judge Burnett said.
He said the evidence the jury heard was that Campbell was to pay Mr Butler $240,000 for half of the McEwens Beach property, taking on the outstanding mortgage amount.
However, with Mr Butler dying two days after the Title was changed - and without his knowledge that the full ownership was changed to a Trust he had no control of - Campbell took the 'opportunity' to deny Mr Butler's estate of the amount she owed.
"The circumstances are troubling," Judge Burnett said.
"It was quite plainly wicked offending."
He added that the fact that two months later fraudulently changed the Nissan Patrol ownership over into her name and then selling the vehicle showed that she was persistent in her offending.
Judge Burnett said if it had not been for Mr Butler's family's tenacity in their prosecution through the civil trial in the Supreme Court in 2012, Campbell may have succeeded in being undetected in her criminal activity.
"The prospects of the conviction and sentence (due to Campbell being a New Zealand citizen) will see you at risk of deportation," he said.
A spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs said the Department does not comment on individual cases.
However, they did state: "A foreign national's visa must be cancelled if they are serving a full-time term of imprisonment for an offence committed in Australia and they have, at any time, been sentenced to a single period of 12 months or more imprisonment.
"Visa cancellation powers under the Act apply regardless of nationality.
"Foreign nationals who do not hold a valid visa will be liable for detention and removal from Australia, subject to completion of any criminal sentence imposed.
"A Criminal Justice Stay Certificate (CJSC) can be issued by a law enforcement authority for a non-citizen to remain in Australia for the purposes of the administration of criminal justice. A person who is the holder of a CJSC cannot be removed from Australia until it is cancelled by that authority."