A former university dean has been found guilty of sending fake threatening letters to herself after a Sydney jury heard she shredded her own clothes and sent herself underwear as part of an elaborate ploy.
For months Dianne Jolley pretended to find alarming notes including one that read: “Goodbye, cya and good luck,” with her photograph and a red line drawn through her face.
“Chop our future we chop yours,” read one card. “China hating lesbian,” read another.
The 51-year-old testified that she awoke one morning to find nearly $2,000 worth of her own clothing had been cut up with a note placed on her car reading: “I know where you live”.
The former University of Technology Sydney professor also claimed some items had been stolen including underwear that was later sent to her in an envelope, but her fingerprint was later found on the sticky side of a postage stamp of this letter.
Following three days of deliberations, a jury found her guilty of 10 charges of conveying information likely to make a person fear for their safety, knowing that it was misleading.
The academic was also found guilty on one charge of causing financial disadvantage by deception to her work, after UTS spent more than $127,000 in security measures protecting her.
Expenses include CCTV cameras installed in her home and office, monitoring alarms, private security chaperoning her around the university, and hire cars driving between home and work.
In a NSW district court trial spanning five weeks, the jury was told the letters sent to UTS and her home between May and November 2019 were all formatted similarly.
The crown argued she orchestrated the scheme to garner sympathy from the science faculty as she tried to close down the university’s traditional Chinese medicine course.
The prosecutor said she was pushing for a performance-based reward of $40,000, on top of her $320,000 yearly salary, by having one of the most financially unviable courses in the faculty shut down.
Jolley admitted drafting one letter herself, after she was caught on CCTV shortly before her arrest in November 2019.
She gave evidence she had deliberately been caught writing the final letter so that UTS would dismiss her, saving her a three-month notice period if she resigned.
But she denied sending all the other threats, telling the court at one point she had been left “horrified and then I was concerned for my [family’s] safety”.
Her legal team argued she was the victim in her case, saying it made no sense that a person with a reputation “of the highest level” would throw it all away to try to push through the closure of a course, which was not even her responsibility.
It was “ludicrous” to suggest Jolley would expose herself to humiliation by sending her own underwear to UTS in the mail, her barrister Leah Rowan said.
Judge Ian Bourke had previously ordered the jury to find Jolley not guilty of nine other charges following a lack of evidence.
Her bail is to continue and she will be sentenced at a later date.