Vandals target cancer fraudster
DAMAGE to her family's property has already formed part of Melissa Quinn's punishment for her crimes.
That's one argument the 35-year-old cancer fraudster's defence barrister put to Lismore District Court on Friday.
In June, the Casino woman was sentenced to two years prison with a nine month non-parole period for four counts of dishonestly obtaining property by deception.
The charges related to more than $47,000 she swindled from the community under the guise of multiple bouts of cancer between 2014 and 2016.
She will have to wait until next Friday to hear the outcome of an appeal against that sentence.
Defence barrister Ben Cochrane said there had been an "arson and malicious damage offence", which took place "in the shed of the Quinn family in Casino" in September.
The court heard this included vandalism in which the word "fake" was spray-painted inside the shed.
"It represents a form of extra-curial punishment," Mr Cochrane said.
Ms Cochrane argued Ms Quinn's mental illness - as observed by experts whose reports were tendered to the court - had contributed to her offending.
"My ultimate submission and most important point is there is ... evidence from two very well known and reliable psychiatrists... who have agreed that Ms Quinn likely has a factitious disorder which contributes to her offending," he said.
He said it was the case this disorder had "materially contributed" to Quinn's crimes.
He asked Judge Wells to consider imposing a non-custodial sentence.
Crown prosecutor Alanna Coxon said there was an "irreparable difference" between what Ms Quinn told police during an interview in which she made full admissions, and what she told psychiatrists later on.
The court heard Quinn conceded to police the illnesses were "lies", but she gave psychiatrists the impression she had, at the time of the offending, genuinely believed she was sick.
Ms Coxon said in Quinn's admissions to police, she conceded she was aware of the deception even as she boarded a jet to the US for fictitious treatment.
She used money raised by the community for the holiday including a theme park visit.
"It's apparent that she was well aware ... at the time, that (her illness) was a complete lie," Ms Coxon said.
Mr Cochrane compared Quinn's actions to large-scale white collar crimes, saying her deception was not as significant as many others.
But Ms Coxon said where the funds came from was significant.
"This is money that has been raised from local people, mums and dads giving of their own free will to something they thought was more than a worthy cause," she said.
For two charges of making and using a false document for financial advantage - which related to a fake doctor's email - Quinn was sentenced to a three-year good behaviour bond by Magistrate David Heilpern in June.
Only the prison sentence is being disputed in her appeal.
Ms Quinn remains on bail and Judge Wells will hand down her judgment next Friday, November 30.