Dead SeaWorld pilot used for traffic fine
The woman who assumed the identity of one of the Sea World helicopter crash victims in order to try to avoid a traffic ticket has had her punishment doubled.
Stephanie Louise Bennett confessed to using deceased pilot Ash Jenkinson’s identity following his death in the horror crash after she was caught using her phone while driving on December 15.
She wept as the judgment was read out and again outside the courtroom while her lawyer apologised to the pilot’s grieving family.
The 33-year-old had been caught using her phone behind the wheel before, but could not afford the $1078 fine and the four demerit points which would cause her to lose her licence.
Fearing losing her new job as a forklift driver at a warehouse without a license, she then turned to obituary notices in an attempt to pin the fine on a recently deceased driver.
Mr Jenkinson, Sea World’s chief helicopter pilot, was one of four people killed in a horrific helicopter crash on the Gold Coast on January 2.
Bennett’s act resulted in Mr Jenkinson’s widow receiving a fine in the mail shortly after laying her husband to rest.
She attempted to nominate other drivers before choosing Mr Jenkinson’s details, with her lawyer Zane Chapman saying she had no idea he was the pilot who had been killed in the horror crash.
Mr Chapman said there was “no excuse” for her conduct.
“That is in no way to diminish my client’s conduct … what she has done is dishonest and she is remorseful,” he said outside court.
She pleaded guilty to fraud by dishonestly inducing a person to act and one count of obtaining or dealing with another’s identity to commit an indictable offence in Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Friday.
Magistrate Mark Howden decided to fine Ms Bennet $2000, almost double the original fine, and record a conviction against her.