A former Taranaki travel agent has been sentenced to imprisonment for a raft of fraud charges.
Nadene Cheree Chapman appeared before Judge John MacDonald in the New Plymouth District Court on Friday for sentencing on two charges of using a document to gain pecuniary advantage and one of theft by a person in a special relationship.
Chapman, a former director of Waitara Travel which went into liquidation at the end of June 2016, had previously pleaded guilty to the charges.
The 43-year-old had been arrested in June 2016 after police were alerted by members of the public who had paid for holidays that never happened. The amounts taken totalled $707,737.
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In front of a packed public gallery, MacDonald sentenced Chapman, who was declared bankrupt in Hamilton in September 2017, to three years in prison on each charge with sentences served concurrently.
In August 2017 Chapman wrote a letter to the Waitara community saying she was “truly sorry” for the pain she caused.
“My actions are unforgivable and have caused mistrust in a community of very trustworthy people,” she said.
“I ask that you don’t punish other Waitara businesses because of your experiences with me. Waitara is full of wonderful giving people, full of love and pride.”
Chapman said she had the opportunity to meet with some of her victims at restorative justice conferences, which helped her gain insight into the impact of her offending.
Prior to the sentencing Waitara community stalwart Ken Bedford said Chapman’s actions had far-reaching consequences.
“It has had quite an effect on the people of Waitara,” he said.
Bedford is involved in the North Taranaki Health Trust, which leased part of its Queen St premises to Waitara Travel Ltd during the time it was in operation.
The trust was left out of pocket from unpaid rent, but all outstanding payments were covered by House of Travel, Bedford said.
House of Travel New Plymouth had been in discussions to purchase Waitara Travel and set it up as a branch but the deal fell through.
Brent Thomas, House of Travel’s commercial director said a significant number of customers were affected in the Waitara area and further afield by the circumstances that surrounded Waitara Travel Ltd.
“House of Travel New Plymouth has worked very closely with these customers to ensure their holiday plans were fulfilled,” Thomas said.
“A substantial amount of client funds were tied up in very complex travel itineraries originally prepared by Waitara Travel Ltd. The team at House of Travel New Plymouth spent a considerable amount of time working with affected customers to confirm their arrangements which understandably was a very stressful period for them.”