10 Oct 2017

Fraudster confronts past demons

4:27 pm on 10 October 2017

A woman imprisoned for defrauding the government of $700,000 has been taking counselling programmes to free herself from what she calls a "jail constructed in her own head."

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Convicted fraudster Joanne Harrison Photo: Supplied

Joanne Harrison was denied parole last week after being sentenced to three years and seven months in jail in February, for defrauding the Ministry of Transport using fake invoices.

In the board's full decision, released today, her lawyer Nathan Phillip Bourke told the Parole Board that Harrison would not be in a position to re-offend in a similar way.

Her offending only occurred in high level management roles and she was unlikely to have that much authority again, he said.

Mr Bourke said Harrison had successfully completed all counselling opportunities available to her and she wished to return to the United Kingdom when released.

Harrison told the board she had been undertaking neuropsychotherapy involving acceptance and commitment therapy to deal with issues that lay deep in her past.

She said she had been able to confront them for the first time and free her from what she described as a "jail constructed in her own head".

But the board said it was not satisfied that was sufficient to ensure Harrison would not re-offend and it was not convinced that her fraud would only be confined to a senior management role.

It said the sustained nature of Harrison's offending over a decade and her ability to avoid detection and deflect suspicion reflected a "sophisticated, premeditated and ongoing pattern of deception of numerous people", including those closest to her.

The board said it considered her an undue risk to the safety of the community.

Harrison told the board she had no convictions overseas. The board said it was seeking confirmation of that, as she also spent an extended period of time working in Australia.

Harrison will return before the Parole Board again next March.

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