'Barcode scam': Fraudster's sister fails in legal action
THE sister of an Ipswich mum who defrauded supermarkets out of almost $5000 worth of groceries by using fraudulent barcodes has been told by a judge she has no case for defamation in relation to media reports of the case.
In a judgment handed down by Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC, Michelle Russell was told any claim against Queensland Television Pty Ltd, Nine Digital Pty Ltd and journalist Pippa Bradshaw would not be successful.
Ms Russell claimed damages against the two media organisations.
She is the sister of Kylie Milner, who was convicted of scamming Coles and Woolworths stores at Springfield, Booval, Collingwood Park, Brookwater and Goodna out of more than $4500 of goods in 2017.
Ms Milner photocopied barcodes from packs of 65c and 72c fried noodles, printed them and glued them to adhesive labels which she used to cover barcodes on more expensive items.
She used self-serve checkouts on a daily or sometimes twice-daily basis to steal packs of meat, coffee machines, protein powder, toilet paper, disinfectant and sheet sets.
Ms Milner pleaded guilty to 31 counts of fraud, three counts of attempted fraud and one count of possessing a drug related utensil.
She was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment suspended for three years, fined $150 and ordered to pay $1545 restitution to Coles and $2070 to Woolworths.
After the conviction, Ms Russell was filmed for a report on the case broadcast by A Current Affair as it attempted to interview her sister.
She was on screen six times at "varying lengths", while her sister remained out of sight inside a residence.
The segment was posted online, promotional material for the episode was published on Facebook and an article featuring a picture of Ms Russell was later posted online on the MSN website.
It was argued her inclusion in the vision implied it was her, and not her guilty sister, that was convicted of the crimes.
But the defence successfully argued there was no suggestion that Ms Russell was her sister and this was made "abundantly clear" in the segment.
While she was out of clear view of the camera, it was made clear Ms Milner was standing behind Ms Russell, and this is where the journalist's questions were directed.
Judge Horneman-Wren concluded the defendants had established Ms Russell has no "real prospect" of succeeding in any part of her claim.