A Chinese identity thief on the run in New Zealand for more than a decade has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for a string of offences.
Yuiuo Qin, 35, appeared in Auckland District Court on February 13 after she pleaded guilty last October to abandoning her 14-month-old daughter in September 2007, and to abandoning her now 4-year-old son in August of last year.
The mother of three, who came to New Zealand in 2001 at the age of 18 to study accounting, left the children with her landlord and friend while working in the sex industry, Judge Claire Ryan said during sentencing.
Her children were a result of her work in the sex industry, the court heard.
She told authorities she had left the children in the care of nannies but they were then turned over to CYF. She initially denied the existence of her 4-year-old son when police questioned her.
Qin also admitted three counts of obtaining $23,000 worth of health care by forging Auckland District Health Board documents, including medical and birth certificates in May 2011 and March 2012.
Qin stole the identities from people she lived with to record them as the birth mother of her second and third children, born in 2012 and 2016.
One of her victims, then a nursing student, found out last year Qin and stolen her identity and used it to forge medical documents. In a victim impact statement she wrote she had a "difficult time" explaining to her family the child Qin had in her name wasn't hers.
Judge Ryan said Qin, who was dressed in black and at times tearful, was able to "abandon [her children] with little risk" by using the false identities.
She said the effect on Qin's abandoned children was at the "extreme end of psychological harm".
"The children were both at an extremely vulnerable age when you failed to return for them.
"You appeared disturbingly unconcerned with the fate of your children after you abandoned them."
Her second child was "selectively mute" for up to three weeks, the court heard.
Qin also obtained a New Zealand driver's licence under a false identity, and defrauded ASB Bank and the National Bank of New Zealand of more than $18,000 by using stolen Eftpos cards and forged bank withdrawal slips.
Qin's lawyer, Michael Kan, earlier opposed media publication of his client's name and photo.
He argued her children, who hold different last names, would suffer undue hardship as a result of publication.
However, Judge Ryan disagreed.
"That is the price of offending in a democracy, where open justice and reporting are important," she said.
"The media are watchdogs in the court, they report on matters of public interest. In my view it is in the public interest, in this matter, to publish her name and photograph."
She added Qin's children were also "unlikely to remember their mother's face".
"They are unlikely to know what's going on in court today or in the media. The eldest child wants nothing to do with [her] mother."
The child was upset to learn she has two younger siblings, the judge said.
Judge Ryan said Qin, who was aided by a Mandarin translator, will be deported to China following her sentence.
She didn't order any monetary reparation. Since 2003 Qin has been an overstayer after Immigration New Zealand lost contact with her.
Qin, who is pregnant with her fourth child, worked as a casual cleaner and in the sex industry, Judge Ryan said.
Her first two children were in the care of CYF and are now with foster families, and her third child is in the care of her partner.