How Darling Downs woman's insurance scam was exposed

A PITTSWORTH woman who defrauded insurance company Youi was so remorseful she never spent the claim but paid it back.

Melissa Kathleen Thorp, 48, wept in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court as details of the single fraud charge was heard today.

Prosecutor Sergeant Mike Robinson told the court Thorp reported a Mitsubishi Triton stolen on January 18 after its engine blew up, but a search of a Pittsworth property on April 15 found it hidden under a camouflage tarp.

Sgt Robinson said Thorp filed a claim with Youi for $7750 which was paid out on January 26, claimed two days later but never spent.

Solicitor Ted Orange first clarified the pay-out figure was $7250 after Thorp paid the $500 excess before telling the court the claim only came about after her cousin blew up the car's engine.

He said Thorp had run a hay-carting business for 12 years without incident but after injuring a shoulder, had been on a disability pension and the fraud was borne out of desperation.

Mr Orange said Thorp, a long-time sufferer of severe anxiety and depression, had acted out of "desperation" after the business fell on hard times in the drought and the vehicle blew up.

Tendering a number of character references to the court, Mr Orange said his client had donated multiple bales of hay to farmers and had opened up her own home to two adults who had fallen on hard times.

Magistrate Andy Cridland said the sum of money involved meant a prison term could have been imposed but after considering Thorp's remorse, lack of criminal history, the repayment of the funds and subsequent apology, fined her $1000.

"If you had any criminal history you would've been going to jail," he said.

No conviction was recorded.

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