Court photo   Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Court photo Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison ROK221012ccourt6

Hundreds ripped off by fraudster

MORE than a hundred people were ripped off by a fraudster who sold fake tickets, flights and accommodation from her Airlie Beach business.

Some of the victims arrived at events and discovered at the door they did not have a valid ticket.

Julie-Ann Kristeen Yeowell pleaded guilty in Townsville Magistrates Court to 104 counts of fraud.

She defrauded clients through her business Universal Sports Tours from May, 2015 to November, 2016.

Senior prosecutor Mark Fenlon told the court that each of the 104 charges represented a victim, and in some cases event organisers had also taken a loss.

"One of the victims ... is the people that organised the V8 races - they seem to have taken a great deal of pity on some of these people who have shown up and actually allowed them in," he said.

"The people have lost their accommodation, they've lost the airfares, they've lost all those factors but they've still managed to gain entry to the event."

Mr Fenlon said victims lost at least $1000, but there were one or two group bookings of about $17,000.

Mr Fenlon said the fraud was worth about $130,000.

Yeowell was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' jail in May, 2016 for fraud perpetrated at the same time.

She was due for parole release on November 30 that year, but further investigations revealed many more victims.

Yeowell was eventually charged with the further 104 counts and ended up spending 17 months in jail before her release on bail in October last year.

Defence solicitor Tristan Carlos said that if all the counts had been dealt with at the same time, Yeowell would have been sentenced to four years jail, and released after 16 months.

He argued Yeowell should spend no more time in jail.

Mr Fenlon asked that Yeowell pay full restitutions.

"The community as a whole has effectively been preyed upon ... ," he said.

Acting Magistrate Scott Luxton is expected to deliver his sentence on Tuesday.

LUCY SMITH



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