A Northern Rivers woman will defend fraud allegations, arguing she was the victim of identity fraud.
A Northern Rivers woman will defend fraud allegations, arguing she was the victim of identity fraud.

‘Victims’ will be character witnesses for fraud accused

THE two alleged victims in a Northern Rivers fraud case are expected to appear as character witnesses in support of the defendant, a court has heard.

Lismore woman Louise Karen Jarrett, 45, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.

Police will allege Ms Jarrett conducted fraudulent withdrawals of two separate Summerland Credit Union accounts in Bangalow on the morning of October 20, 2018.

According to court documents, they will allege two-factor authorisation was used for both transactions.

Police will allege $66,637 was taken between the two alleged offences.

But the defence is expected to fight the charges on the basis Ms Jarrett was the victim of identity fraud.

The accused was not required to appear when the matter went before Byron Bay Local Court on Tuesday.

Magistrate Karen Stafford expressed frustration that the case was not yet ready to proceed to a hearing.

The court heard it had been previously listed for a hearing in January, then March, before being adjourned to June.

Defence lawyer Tracey Randall told the court this was through “no fault of the accused”.

She said prosecution has asked for the earlier adjournment, while COVID-19 played a part later on.

“This is a case affected by COVID,” Ms Randall said.

“There’s no ‘victim’.

“This is a circumstantial case.

“The two people who had funds taken from them are appearing as character witnesses for the accused.”

Ms Randall said two days would be required for the issues to be properly ventilated through a hearing.

But the court heard the defence was still awaiting proper access to their expert IT witness.

“We engaged an expert pre-COVID,” Ms Randall said.

“He’s now unable to accept any hardware from our office until after September 30.

“He’s taken a view in relation to COVID he doesn’t have the equipment to sanitise hardware sufficiently to protect his staff.”

While that equipment was expected to arrive at his office eventually, the court heard it would take some time.

Ms Stafford set the matter down for a hearing on January 19 and 20, 2021.

She urged the defence and prosecution to resolve the issues that could be resolved before the first hearing day.

“In these matters, really so much can be done before people walk into a courtroom at 9.30,” Ms Stafford said.

Ms Randall said there was “quite complex” documentary material.

Ms Stafford urged the prosecution to make that material to their own expert witness well in advance.

The full brief of evidence is due to be files by November 18, along with other documents.

On November 24, the case will return to court to confirm the hearing will be ready to proceed in January.