A woman has admitted making calls claiming to be a sexual health worker in a bid to damage the reputation of a girl who was a rival to her daughter's bid to study at two elite colleges.
The Queenstown 53-year-old appeared visibly shaken when she appeared on two charges in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.
Sergeant Ian Collin said the defendant applied to St Hilda's Collegiate School and Columba College, both in Dunedin, in May for her daughter to be accepted next year.
"There is a very high demand for limited places at the schools and a board makes a final decision" on candidates towards the end of the year, Mr Collin told Judge Kevin Phillips.
The mother was aware another Queenstown teenager was also applying for entry to the schools, he said.
"In an effort to have her daughter accepted ahead of the other student, the defendant made the fictitious phone calls to both St Hilda's and Columba College concerning the other student's behaviour and that of her parents," he said.
The defendant called St Hilda's principal Melissa Bell and claimed to be "Anne-Marie Thompson", a sexual health worker based in the Oxford Clinic in Invercargill. She said one of the boarders needed support with treatment. She then said she had made a mistake and Ms Bell was the contact for next year. The mother went on to name the prospective pupil.
About 30 minutes later, she called Columba College boarding director Richelle Manson and identified herself as "Anne-Marie Thompson", a nurse at the Queenstown Medical Centre.
She said she had to make an appointment for the prospective pupil, and named her.
She called the college again at 4.30pm, when she knew Ms Manson had finished for the day. She told staff member Glenys McDowell the prospective pupil "had a sexually transmitted disease and that she was in a lesbian relationship with another girl".
All of the people phoned became suspicious. They found nobody named "Anne-Marie Thompson" working in either the clinic or the centre.
When police spoke to the defendant, she refused to make a statement and answered "no comment" to all questions, Mr Collin told the court.
Judge Phillips ordered a pre-sentencing report. "A psychiatric report will be of assistance."
The woman faced two charges of using a telephone for a fictitious purpose, which has a penalty of three months' imprisonment or a $2000 fine.
She is on bail until next month.
- Otago Daily Times