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15 months for deceptive Facebook scheme

A woman who ran a Facebook “scheme” in which she received money for goods she then failed to supply has been sentenced to 15 months imprisonment.

Koral Northover appeared in Masterton District Court yesterday [February 7] for sentencing after pleading guilty to eight counts of obtaining by deception, one charge of theft, one charge of possession of a knife in a public place, and one charge for failure to appear in court.

On about March 7, 2023, Northover’s first victim had his phone hacked, and his bank and social media account details changed without his knowledge.

District Court Judge Tania Warburton told the court that several people attempted to buy goods through Facebook Messenger from the first victim’s account, which Northover had taken control of.

“You then provided false bank account details, payments were made to that bank account, and then the items that were purchased were not received by those who had paid,” Warburton said.

In relation to her other charges, in January last year Northover was stopped by police at a BP and a knife was found in the driver’s door of her car. In that same month, Northover also drove to a BP where she pumped $71.11 worth of fuel into her vehicle and then left without paying.

The judge said she had read a large number of the victim impact statements that had detailed the “breadth” of Northover’s offending and the common thread in the statements was the “breach of trust”.

“There was a breach of trust for the victims who believed they were conducting business with a legitimate account holder,” Warburton said.

The prosecution claimed the offending required a “high level of premeditation” and the multiple obtaining by deceptions offences occurred over several days.

When considering her sentencing, Warburton noted that 18 months imprisonment would be an appropriate sentence but reduced this term by 20 per cent due to Northover’s early guilty plea – reducing the sentence to 15 months.

“This was a planned and deliberate scheme, it took effort to execute,” Warburton said.

Warburton refused a community-based sentence as suggested by the defence, noting that Northover had failed to comply with electronically monitored bail in the past.

The judge noted that the Sentencing Act directed her to “sentence on the basis of the least restrictive outcome”.

“However, in your case, I consider the purposes of holding you accountable for the harm you have done … and protection of the community requires in this case a custodial sentence.”

Warburton then sentenced Northover to 15 months imprisonment before reading out each charge and sentence, which are to be served concurrently.

For two offences of obtaining by deception committed on March 16, Northover was sentenced to 15 months and three months and ordered to pay reparations of $1127 and $978 respectively.

For two offences of obtaining by deception committed on March 17, Northover was sentenced to one month for each and ordered to pay reparations of $480 and $398.

A single obtaining by deception offence committed on March 19 resulted in three months imprisonment and reparations of $640.

Another single obtaining by deception offence committed on March 21 received 15 months imprisonment with reparations of $2899.

For an obtaining by deception offence committed on March 23, Northover was sentenced to one month imprisonment with reparations of $408.

The final offence of obtaining by deception received 15 months imprisonment with $2496 worth of reparations to be paid.

The charge for theft of petrol resulted in one month imprisonment, and Northover was ordered to pay $71.11 in reparations.

Warburton convicted and discharged Northover for the charges of failure to appear in court and possession of a knife.

The total reparation payments come to a total of almost $9500, and the judge remitted a fine of $2576.57.

Northover will commence reparation payments from February 21 at $20 per week.

She has spent six and a half months in remand, which will be “taken into account by the prison when they calculate the release date”, Warburton said.

Standard and special conditions will apply upon Northover’s release from prison for six months.

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