Home detention for Fiji holiday fraud
The woman who “fragmented the dreams” of Fiji holiday makers will serve her home detention sentence in the seaside settlement of Omaha.
Anita Cranston admitted a charge of dishonestly using documents by accepting bookings for a luxury Fiji holiday home that she no longer had a right to.
Cranston ended up taking more than $61,000 of deposits from would-be holiday makers who planned to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and family weddings.
In sentencing her at the Auckland District Court today, Judge David Harvey said he was tempted to send her to jail as retribution for her victims.
But Judge Harvey said according to the law he had to impose the least restrictive sentence and imposed a home detention sentence of 11 months.
He took into account Cranston’s reparation payments of $29,000 and her promise to continue paying $50 a week from her sickness benefit.
Judge Harvey evoked the poet WB Yeats in sentencing and quoted the poem: “Tread softly, for you tread upon my dreams.”
He added: “You didn’t do that. You fragmented the dreams of everybody.”
Judge Harvey said Cranston’s offending was born out of greed and her desire to live the high life.
She spent much of the money on alcohol and travel.
Cranston changed her plea to guilty eight days into her trial after an exchange with Judge Harvey while giving evidence in her defence.
She had told the court she mistakenly sent one of her victims, Mericia Waqanimaravu, an email in April, 2011, confirming her booking for the home that included four bedrooms and bathrooms, a pool, spa and a garage full of holiday toys including a golf cart.
Cranston also asked for $2097 as a deposit.
She told the court she had meant to send the email to a person called Mericini – not Mericia.
However, Judge Harvey pointed out that Cranston’s email was a ‘reply to’ email.
“You can’t make that sort of mistake” said the judge.
Cranston said she had made a mistake but Judge Harvey persisted.
“Give me some credit, Ms Cranston, for knowing a little bit – not a lot – but a little bit about how technology works. It doesn’t work that way.”
After the exchange Ms Cranston’s lawyer Alice Kemp asked for an adjournment.
Crown prosecutor Rachael Reed then presented a new charge that included all the complainants.
Cranston pleaded guilty.
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