Tannum Sands couple pleads guilty to mortgage fraud
IT MIGHT seem tempting sometimes to fudge the truth if you think it won't hurt anyone.
But a Tannum Sands couple yesterday learnt the hard way that mortgage documents are not to be treated lightly.
Kirsty-Louise Elizabeth Bailey found herself in court for the first time in her life, where she pleaded guilty to forging her mother's signature, using a fraudulent document and fraud causing detriment.
Her partner, Leslie Thomas Green, appeared beside her, having pleaded guilty to fraud.
Bailey and Green were co-signatories along with Bailey's mother on a loan for a house at Tannum Sands, which the three bought together in 2012.
The court was told Bailey's mother bought two-fifths of the property using money from the sale of a Boyne Island home and moved into a separate section of the new house.
Bailey and Green owned the remainder of the property between them and were responsible for paying off the loan.
Over the next two years, the relationship between the couple and Bailey's mother began to sour, Bailey's lawyer Brad Krebs told the court.
In 2014, Bailey, looking for a mortgage top-up, forged her mother's signature on an application and took out a $45,000 loan, not immediately telling Green what she had done.
Of that, $20,000 went to paying off an unrelated loan in Green's name, while $14,836 was paid off Bailey's credit card.
Mr Krebs said it was "clearly not a typical fraud charge" as Bailey and Green had been the ones making the repayments, therefore no restitution was being sought by the victim.
He said his client had not asked her mother to sign the application because they were not getting along and she did not want to cause an argument.
Bailey's mother had moved out by 2016 and the couple were not aware of any issues with the loan until they were contacted by police in June.
Mr Krebs said Bailey regretted her actions and hoped to repair her relationship with her mother but had not been able to due to bail conditions.
He told Magistrate Neil Lavaring she would be "unlikely to grace the courts again".
Prosecutor Joel Sleep acknowledged it was an unusual case but said there was a need for a significant sentence to deter others in the community from offending in a similar way.
But he suggested any sentence imposed against the couple should be suspended.
Mr Lavaring agreed, noting the couple's remorse, their otherwise excellent character and the particular circumstances of the case worked in their favour.
He sentenced Green to one month in prison, suspended for a year, and Bailey to three months for each offence, to be served concurrently, also suspended for a year.