Wendy Jayne Lentini was found guilty of a $300,000 health insurance fraud after an Ipswich District Court jury trial.
Wendy Jayne Lentini was found guilty of a $300,000 health insurance fraud after an Ipswich District Court jury trial. Contributed

Husband's horror legacy blamed in $300k fraud appeal

A WIFE allegedly doused in petrol during a reign of marital terror says she should not have been convicted of a $300,000 fraud.

Ipswich woman Wendy Jayne Lentini was jailed in March for five years, for a fraud where she falsely claimed to have multiple sclerosis.

But Queensland Court of Appeal heard Lentini claimed she was a battered wife and her vicious husband coerced her into the scam.

On Thursday, the court heard Lentini's husband Carmello "Kemmy" Lentini  killed himself in 2012 - then the scam committed a decade earlier was revealed.

Barrister Saul Holt, appealing against Lentini's conviction, said multiple witnesses testified at Lentini's district court jury trial about heinous domestic violence, including the petrol-dousing.

Lentini had a firm battered wife diagnosis in 2017, and "more probably than not" in the very early 2000s as well, Mr Holt said.

He said battered wife victims displayed PTSD, "learned helplessness" and sometimes clinical depression.

Mr Holt said Kemmy Lentini was a dangerous man with "narcissistic and psychopathic" traits.

Appearing with Mr Holt for Lentini, barrister Tony Kimmins said the trial prosecutor seized upon the words "a likelihood of symptoms".

But a doctor told the district court it was "highly likely" Lentini had battered wife symptoms, Kimmins said.

Justice Walter Sofronoff asked if the syndrome meant Lentini was less able to resist her husband's demands.

Mr Kimmins said the syndrome did raise issues of moral culpability.

Justice Anthe Philippides and Justice James Henry said the trial prosecutor challenged whether Lentini exaggerated the impacts of domestic violence.

Prosecutor Dzenita Balic said the district court's Judge Dennis Lynch did accept Lentini was a battered woman.

But that did not mean jurors had to believe Lentini.

"Jurors were able to conclude she might've exaggerated," Ms Balic said.

The appeal court reserved its decision. -NewsRegional

FOR HELP, PHONE:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Domestic violence: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78

beyondblue: 1300 22 46 36

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800



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