A jury in the trial of a Whangārei physiotherapist accused of defrauding the Accident Compensation Corporation of tens of thousands of dollars are expected to continue their deliberation this morning.
Skye Renes is facing 26 charges of obtaining by deception and a further three of dishonestly using a document for pecuniary advantage between 2011 and 2016.
The three-week trial in the Whangārei District Court heard evidence from witnesses working for ACC and physiotherapists and a large number of documents were tendered as exhibits.
At the conclusion of the Crown case, the 37-year-old owner of Fizeo Works Physiotherapy in Raumanga chose to give evidence and called one defence witness.
The jury went out at 3.30pm on Thursday last week after summing up by Judge Keith de Ridder, which followed closing addresses by the Crown solicitor and defence lawyer.
The jurors were allowed to go home on Thursday evening and returned to continue their deliberations at 9.30am on Friday.
After they couldn't reach their verdicts by 4pm on Friday, they were told to return to court and continue their work at 9am today.
Crown solicitor Mike Smith told the jury in his closing address on Thursday the case boiled down to a single issue- whether Renes simply made an honest mistake or were her actions a deliberate course of conduct aimed at dishonestly obtaining money from ACC.
Evidence pointed to the latter, he said.
On the one hand, Smith said Renes blamed ACC, her company and her employees and other times she said she gave instructions on claims to be filed.
He said the list of people who provided treatment that was subsequently paid for by ACC included physiotherapist assistants whose services were ineligible for payment through the
government agency as they were unqualified.
Smith said Renes used the name of a male physiotherapist as the treatment provider on 179 occasions on dates when he was away overseas.
"How on Earth did the error occur 179 times. It's not reasonable, it doesn't make sense. These are not honest mistakes. These are a deliberate course of conduct."
On one occasion, Smith said Renes used the name of another person who was at a funeral at the relevant time as the treatment
Two unqualified physiotherapists worked at sporting events and the services they provided were billed to ACC under Renes' name, he said.
Smith said even after an employee of Renes who left work warned her company not to use her name as the treatment provider, the practice continued.
Defence lawyer Justin Wall told the jury an error in dates and the treatment provider wasn't dishonesty unless it could be proved that the intention was to deceive.
Treatments have been provided and there was an entitlement to be paid for those work, he said.
Poor computer systems used to file information, he said, were designed "on the fly" and over time the information became more difficult to follow.
Wall said sweeping statements have been made by Crown witnesses, including ACC employees, and that nothing they said was directly relevant to the charges Renes faced.
He described the ACC investigation as "sloppy and incomplete" and said the investigators did not ask for as many documents from Renes as possible, even though they had the legal authority to do so.
Renes constantly told ACC she was using a physiotherapist, he said.