The founder of a child abuse prevention group who put a curse on the family of a police complainant in a Facebook post and stole from a charitable group has been ordered to repay the money.

Taupō woman Tracy Livingstone, also known as Tracy Shelford, founded Taupō's Child Abuse Prevention Awareness group in 2015. The charges relate to money stolen from that group.

Today in the Rotorua District Court she was sentenced on one charge of theft by a person in a special relationship and two charges of harmful digital communication. She was ordered to repay the $1530 she stole and to serve 100 hours of community work.

Tracy Livingstone with a memorial plaque in Taupō in 2017. Photo / File
Tracy Livingstone with a memorial plaque in Taupō in 2017. Photo / File

Jan-Marie Quinn, the victim and the person who made police aware of the theft spoke at the sentencing.


"Tracy, you were my friend and I trusted you. What you have done has not only betrayed my trust but that of the community."

The Child Abuse Prevention Awareness group brought awareness to the cause through various events and when Quinn joined she and Livingstone set up a joint bank account for the cause.

But in March 2018, when invoicing a Taupō event for services provided to raise money for the charity, Livingstone put her own bank account on the invoice receiving the $1530 which she spent on personal purchases.

When it was discovered, Quinn went to the police.

Today in court Quinn acknowledged the work Livingstone had done in the community.

"You've led campaigns that had national media attention and brought awareness of the devastating effects of child abuse ... You are the type of person that would give others the shirt off your own back if you thought they needed it more than you.

Rotorua District Court. Photo / File
Rotorua District Court. Photo / File

"I believe in your kaupapa ... I followed you because I believed in you. Together we made an impact on child abuse awareness and achieved amazing things in our community.

"These things have been destroyed by what you have done."


After a court appearance in January 2019, Livingstone put a post on Facebook which led to the first harmful digital communication charge.

Judge Phillip Cooper said today Livingstone's post said Quinn had "no honesty or integrity and was untruthful and you would make sure Taupō knew".

"You called her a lying piece of s***."

In a second post, Livingstone referred to "evil deceit and lies" and placed a "wairuatoa mana utu on the people most important in the troll's life, young and old".

A "wairuatoa mana utu" is a term used to bring bad luck and ill health to a person.

"You said you would not remove it until the truth was spoken," Judge Cooper said.

"Well, that truth is being spoken today and it says it is not the complainant who was untruthful and lacking integrity. It was you."

According to the summary of facts previously given to the Rotorua Daily Post, "the complainant was unable to work due to stress and sought medical support".

In court today Quinn said Livingstone had been "cruel and vindictive".

"You've bullied me and intimidated me on social media and said things that simply are not true," she said.

"You've abused me, caused me to fear for my safety and the safety of those I love and care for. For that, I'll never forgive you."

Quinn said she had even received abusive phone calls to her business, leading to them to redivert calls to avoid them.

She said she was proud she had stood up to Livingstone but hoped Livingstone would continue to do "wonderful things for the community".

Before Livingstone's sentencing, her lawyer Annette Sykes said she wanted any reparation to be given to Starship Hospital but Judge Cooper said he would prefer it go to a Taupō charity.

Sykes said Livingstone's offending was "spur of the moment" at a stressful time in life and she intended to pay the money back.

"This is a woman who has devoted her life to the Taupō community."

Judge Cooper sentenced Livingstone to 100 hours of community work and ordered her to pay back the $1530 which would go to the Salvation Army.

Judge Cooper acknowledged the amount stolen was "modest" and Livingstone did not have previous offences. He acknowledged people spoke highly of Livingstone and the work she did in the community but said she had breached that community's trust.

"It is somewhat ironic you were calling the complainant dishonest and a liar and a person without integrity when it's you who turned out to be the dishonest one."

Livingstone was supported by family in the public gallery.