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Ill elderly couple betrayed

Gardener stole cheques off couple, aged 89 and 92, to cash in


A woman betrayed the trust of an ill elderly couple by stealing their cheque book and tarnishing their reputation in their home town.

Krystal Sharee Miller, 30, was sentenced yesterday in Masterton District Court on 10 fraud-related charges.

She had been carrying out casual gardening work for Martinborough couple Kevin and Shirley McGillicuddy, when she took their cheque book and forged their signatures on cheques to the tune of $2773.

The court heard how Miller’s actions had been a “gross breach of trust” for the couple, who had regarded her “as a friend”.

Miller cashed cheques at various Martinborough stores, and one at Masterton ANZ, between June 21 and 25, 2016.

On June 24, Mrs McGillicuddy died, aged 89, and just over a month later her husband died, aged 92.

The victims’ son, Shaun McGillicuddy, told the Times-Age that Miller’s actions had tarnished his family name in Martinborough.

His parents had lived in the South Wairarapa town their entire married life of 75 years, on the farm that had once belonged to his grandfather.

Mr McGillicuddy said he and his siblings had not revealed Miller’s actions to his dying parents, and she was yet to apologise to his family.

He provided the court with a victim impact statement, which was not read out, but which he also supplied to the Times-Age.

In it he describes his parents’ ill health, including his father’s poor eye sight.

“He also had a heart attack and two strokes in the past that had left him very limited in his mobility.

“Mum had also suffered a heart attack along with bowel cancer.”

In the statement, Mr McGillicuddy said how his mother had trusted Miller and been sympathetic to her “struggles with life”.

Yesterday in court, Miller, a mother of seven, appeared before Judge Barbara Morris on one charge of unlawfully taking a document, and nine charges of using a document for pecuniary advantage.

Judge Morris said Miller was “fortunate” not to be facing charges of forgery for her actions towards the “distinctly vulnerable” older couple.

She said the couple had regarded Miller “as a friend”, trusting her to be on their property and in their home.

“The family decided not to tell the victims of what you had done,” Judge Morris said.

She said the victims had been longstanding residents of Martinborough, and Miller’s actions had caused “considerable embarrassment” to the family, who were well-regarded in the small community.

Judge Morris said the family indicated that the victims had been “sympathetic” to Miller and her hardships, and would have helped her financially had she asked them for assistance.

The judge said the fact that Miller had “lost day-to-day care” of her children, and suffered from depression, had “no doubt blurred” her judgement.

She also took into account Miller’s guilty plea, and the “pressure” she had been under at the time of her offending.

“When I look at your offending, there’s no question of the seriousness, and that there was a gross breach of trust.”

The judge sentenced Miller to four months of community detention, and 12 months of supervision with conditions set by probation.

She was also ordered to repay the money relating to the fraud.



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