Travel Agents

Guilty agent gets fraud sentence relaxed to move overseas

The former Flight Centre travel agent who pleaded guilty to defrauding a pensioner travel scheme via the NT government has managed to have her sentence loosened.

Vanessa Barrett, who’s sentence was suspended, has had her conditions relaxed to allow for her to move to Papua New Guinea with her partner.

Per NT News, Barrett’s lawyer, Shane McMaster, successfully arranged for her suspended sentence to be altered so that she could accompany her partner when he moved to the Australian High Commission compound in Port Moresby.

Barrett’s partner is an air force sergeant.

Barrett’s new residence at the High Commission compound in Papua New Guinea is set to be pretty mint, including squash and tennis courts, a swimming pool and 24/7 staff and security guards.

Barrett pleaded guilty to the defrauding earlier this year, after she managed to illegally scoop over $110,000.

Barrett admitted to submitting and securing reimbursement from the NT Health Department for 169 false invoices at higher flight costs, when in actual fact, the flights she purchased for pensioners were much cheaper.

However, rather than pocketing the extra cash, which was the case for previously convicted Darwin travel agent Xana Kamitsis, who was jailed in 2015 for defrauding the same pensioner travel scheme, Barrett funneled almost all of the extra money back into Flight Centre.

Per the ABC, Barrett then received a $4000 annual bonus as a result of her impressive sales results.

Barrett’s lawyer, McMaster, ensured she avoided jail time, with the judge suspending her 15-month sentence.

Per NT News, Crown prosecutor David Morters said the condition that Barrett remain in the NT was the only part of her punishment that had any real effect on her life.

“The application is, in effect, to take away the one obligation that is having an impact on a continuing basis on the person who has accepted responsibility for this very serious offending,” he said.

Per NT News, Morters said loosening this suspended sentence even further would undermine an already “merciful sentence”.

“We can’t trivialise the obligation of reporting to a probation and parole officer. It’s part of the penalty that’s imposed as part of the process of rehabilitation.

“It’s a bit bold [for Barrett] to come to court … and ask to remove herself from that obligation as well.”



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