Teen steals card for shopping spree
A RECEPTIONIST who went on an online spending spree with her mother’s credit card details has avoided jail but will have to repay her debt of almost $ 18,000.
Kiearna Marie Cooper, 19, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of fraud in the Townsville District Court between August 31, 2009 and February 18, 2010.
Crown prosecutor Clare Kelsey said the defendant, who wept openly in the dock, did not use the money for ‘‘ extreme financial needs’’ but to pay everyday bills, fund personal entertainment and travel.
Ms Kelsey said Cooper was initially given the Westpac Banking Corporation credit card details by her mother when she was 17 years old, to secure a mobile phone contract.
‘‘ Over a six-month period she took advantage of her parents’ generosity . . . and convinced the bank to increase the credit limit,’’ she said.
Ms Kelsey said Cooper also changed the billing address to conceal her fraudulent behaviour so she would receive the credit card bill for the amount of $ 17,945.21.
‘‘ It was a fraud that was highly unsophisticated in nature in the sense that . . . she was always going to be found out,’’ the prosecutor said.
Ms Kelsey added that Cooper initially showed remorse when confronted by her parents and the bank manager, however when she refused to a loan arrangement the situation deteriorated.
Defence barrister Greg Lynham said his client’s parents’ deal with t heir daughter included that she must split up wit h her boyfriend, an apprentice electrician, and return home. Mr Lynham said when the teenager refused to those conditions she was reported to the police.
‘‘ This is a tragic case, as she declined the offer and sadly her parents took that step,’’ Mr Lynham said.
‘‘ Now the situation has deteriorated to the point where they are no longer talking to each other.’’
Mr Lynham said it had ‘‘torn the family fabric apart’’.
When sentencing Cooper, Judge Stuart Durward SC said the offence was serious but out of character for the teenager who had a clean criminal record.
The judge conceded the situation was very upsetting for Cooper who no longer had the support of her family.
‘‘ It is quite sad . . . the family unit has broken down that’s a shame and no doubt has an effect on you,’’ he said. ‘‘ However it was foolish ( behaviour) fuelled by your lack of sophistication and youth as a 17 and 18-yearold.’’
Cooper, who faced a maximum five years jail, was sentenced to 80 hours community service and 12 months probation.
No conviction was re-corded but a restitution order to repay the debt was ordered by Judge Durward.