A high-ranking Sydney academic has been found guilty of faking a series of threats delivered to her home and office including one in which she sent herself her own underwear.
Former University of Technology Sydney dean of science Dianne Jolley, 51, was on Thursday found guilty of 11 charges including multiple counts of conveying information likely to make a person fear for their safety.
Jolley pleaded not guilty and throughout her trial denied the crown prosecution’s allegation that she was responsible for a bizarre stream of 10 threatening letters and notes mailed to her between July and November 2019.
The crown had accused her of waging the fake hate mail campaign in an attempt to muster support to push through the closure of a traditional Chinese medicine course.
And the jury rejected her argument that the allegations were “nonsense” and that she was the victim of harassment by a mystery assailant.
Jolley was earlier in the trial acquitted of a slew of other charges.
Judge Ian Bourke directed the jury to find her not guilty of another nine counts of conveying information likely to make a person fear for their safety.
But she was on Thursday found guilty of 10 counts of conveying information likely to make a person fear for their safety and one count of causing financial disadvantage by deception.
Crown prosecutor Roger Kimball highlighted several key pieces of evidence including CCTV and phone taps which he said supported the allegation that Jolley was responsible for authoring 10 threatening letters and cards sent to her over a three-and-a-half month period.
During the trial, Jolley admitted to sending one letter to herself in November 2019, when she typed up and printed out the letter in her office at UTS’s Ultimo campus.
She said that at the time, the toll of the real series of threatening letters had wrought a toll on her life and family and she was trying to find a way to get fired.
She said she concluded that the only way to get immediately sacked from her $320,000-a-year position was to commit a misconduct offence, and resolved the best way to do that was to get caught writing one fake letter.
In text messages sent to a colleague on November 18, five days after her arrest, she admitted: “I know I have cracked under the pressure, after alot of reflection I think I can pinpoint exactly when.
“As a result I’ve done a couple of things to piggyback on events to keep a sense of additional arms protecting me, things I’m not proud of.
The jury was also played a police phone tap in which she was overheard telling her personal assistant that she had sent two letters.
“I made some bad judgment calls and two of the letters that were sent were sent by me because I wanted some more support,” she said on the call which was intercepted by police.
“I should have gone to a psychologist and now they’re accusing me of everything.”
She testified that at the time the university was planning to close its traditional Chinese medicine course, and as the face of the proposed change, was experiencing angry resistance from some members of the community.
When the threatening letters began trickling in on July 31, 2019, the university went to great lengths to put security measures around her, spending over $127,000 on installing CCTV cameras at her home and office and providing her with a personal bodyguard.
She admitted to typing up one of the letters and printing it off inside her office at UTS’s Ultimo campus but said she was otherwise innocent of sending any of the notes.
But Mr Kimball successfully argued that Jolley’s fingerprints were found on the back of a stamp which was used to send one of the letters, arguing she was responsible for all of them.
Jolley will be sentenced at a later date.