17 Dec 2018

Transport Ministry fraudster to be deported to UK

3:02 pm on 17 December 2018

Transport Ministry fraudster Joanne Harrison, who was sentenced to prison in February last year for defrauding more than $700,000, is set to be deported to the UK.

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Photo: supplied

Harrison, 52, was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for defrauding the ministry using fake invoices.

She was denied parole twice, once last October and a second time in March, when the board deemed she remained an undue risk to society.

The parole board today decided she will be released in January and will immediately be deported from New Zealand.

The board said she remained a risk due to her extensive fraud but she did not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community in the UK.

Due to a deportation notice, Harrison is no longer eligible for a reintegration programme, the Parole Board said.

"Due to her status as a deportee, her security classification has been increased and she is not able to reside in self-care and is no longer eligible for Release to Work," the board said.

Harrison had extensive counselling in prison and had participated in workshops, the board noted.

The work included trauma counselling and neuropsychological work "to address faulty thinking" and required her "to strip herself bare and rebuild herself".

The board said that Harrison does not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead for her in the UK but that she is in the strongest position to begin a new life for herself.

Harrison told the board she would be financially supported when upon immediate arrival in the country and plans to retrain in the field of nutrition or mindfulness and that she has no convictions in the UK.

"Ms Harrison does not underestimate the challenges that she will face when she returns to the community. However she sees herself as now being in the strongest position possible to return to the United Kingdom to live with the support to be provided by [withheld] and to begin a new life for herself," the board said.

Harrison's lawyer told the board she had benefited from extensive counselling and group workshop sessions.

Her relationship with her parents was also a topic of conversation, particularly her one with her mother.

"It is clear from the psychological assessment that there have been issues particularly with Ms Harrison's relationship with her mother," the board said.

"Ms Harrison said that the work she has completed, as well as the counselling her parents have undertaken, has enabled both sides to gain perspective on this."

The board said risk remains given Harrison's extensive fraudulent behaviour, but that it was satisfied she would not pose an undue risk to the UK community.

"She has informed support and supervision available to her in the United Kingdom, and she plans to undertake additional counselling there."

The board had a residual concern noting that the deportation notice referred to an allegation she had fraudulently created material to obtain her New Zealand visa in 2006 in the skilled migrant category.

As part of the special conditions of her release, Harrison will not be allowed to return to New Zealand until the date of her statutory release date of 4 March 2020.

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