How to protect from a recidivist fraudster?

The Herald reports:

This is Gwenda Christine Bush, one of New Zealand’s most prolific fraudsters.

During the past 40 years she has amassed more than 600 dishonesty convictions, filling 57 pages of a court file, for using fabricated sob stories to rip off charities.

Yesterday, she was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention for her latest scam – a 12-year rort where she obtained almost $6000 in food parcels, furniture and other assistance from the Salvation Army. …

Detective Kellie Osborne, the officer in charge of the investigation, spoke to the Herald after sentencing yesterday.

“In the entire 10 years that I’ve been a police officer, this is the most abhorrent type of fraud that I’ve investigated,” Detective Osborne said. “The Salvation Army relies on the generosity of the public, they offer amazing help to people who are in genuine and desperate need. …

Judge Down said Bush’s criminal history was “appalling”. “[You have] 57 pages of convictions, mostly for dishonesty … the worst list of previous convictions I have ever seen in 35 years in the criminal justice system.”

He said Bush, who has two children, started offending in the 70s.

Judge Down considered sending Bush back to prison, but noted none of her earlier lags had made a difference to her offending.

He did not know if there was any point in sending her again and thought the restrictions of home detention, which she had not served before, might be more beneficial.

“Someone who is such a repeat and recidivist offender cannot really expect any less than imprisonment.

“But on the other hand, she has been sent to prison so many times in the past it hasn’t made any difference,” the judge said.

He sentenced Bush to 12 months’ home detention followed by six months of special conditions. “However, if you breach it or you commit further offending during home detention or post-detention conditions you will be brought back to court and you will be resentenced to a term of imprisonment.”

I think it is fair to conclude that after 600 convictions over 40 years, nothing can be done to deter her.

So surely the focus should now be on protecting the community. She should be given the maximum sentence available for her offending, to remove her from the community. She has left behind scores of victims.

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