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Former sports physio found guilty of theft and fraud at Rebel Sport

Skye Renes news
Skye Renes (L).

Former high-profile sports physiotherapist Skye Renes misused her long-standing customer status at the Whangārei branch of Rebel Sport to steal from and defraud the store, the Crown argued in her trial at Whangārei District Court last week.

The jury agreed, finding Renes guilty of theft and fraud after deliberating for about five hours and reviewing in-store CCTV footage presented as evidence, according to a legacy media report.

Renes, 43, previously served as the team physiotherapist for the Kiwi Ferns national women’s rugby league squad and co-owned a physiotherapy business. Her career ended in 2019 after being convicted of dishonesty offenses related to ACC provider claims, totaling around $13,000.

Though no longer practicing as a physiotherapist, Renes remained active in sports, excelling as a champion lawn bowls player. The court heard that she had been a regular customer at the Okara Park branch of Rebel Sport for about 10 years. Store staff were familiar with her, often allowing her to try on multiple items without counting them and removing security tags from shoes for her convenience, according to prosecutor Danica Soich.

On August 7, 2022, the store manager found numerous swing tags hidden behind a hygiene poster in a changing room and empty shoeboxes on shelves, leading to an investigation that pointed to Renes, who had been in the store that day and the day before. The prosecution’s case relied on CCTV footage and staff testimony, showing Renes handling items matching the hidden swing tags and taking them to the changing room on August 6, 2020. Footage from the next day showed her returning with a pram and engaging in movements consistent with hiding items under it. She also used a legitimate receipt to fraudulently obtain a refund for a pair of shoes that staff had previously de-tagged, claiming she had been mistakenly given the wrong size.

A police search of her home uncovered many items matching those for which swing tags were found in the store, including a pair of size-10 shoes matching the legitimate receipt from the Pukekohe store. Soich suggested Renes had been ‘tipped off’ about the investigation and disposed of some items, which Renes denied.

Renes, choosing to testify, claimed she did not steal from the store and that the refund transaction was legitimate. She argued the items found at her home were coincidental matches to those missing from the store.

Defense counsel Adam Pell argued the Crown’s case relied on speculation and guesswork, emphasizing that Renes had receipts for the items found at her home and that the alleged thefts could have been committed by other customers.

Judge Ian Mill remanded Renes on bail for sentencing on July 5.

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