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.
Stephanie Bennett and her lawyer Zane Chapman leave Beenleigh Courts. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah MarshallMs Bennett did not talk to reporters after being fined $2000 for falsely using the identity of dead Sea World Helicopters pilot Ash Jenkinson to cover a traffic fine. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah MarshallHer lawyer said she did not know the identify of Sea World Helicopters pilot Ash Jenkinson nor his partner Kosha Richardson-Johnson (both pictured).
She wept as the judgment was read out and 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.
Ms Bennett sobbed in and outside of court. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah MarshallHer fine is now double its initial amount and she has a conviction recorded against her. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah MarshallSea World chief pilot Ash Jenkinson died after his chopper collided with another on the Gold Coast in January.
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.