Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rise and fall of financial adviser fraudster Tony Mount


Nelson Mail/Fairfax Media 
http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/64270458/Rise-and-fall-of-financial-adviser-fraudster-Tony-Mount

Former high-flying Nelson financial adviser Tony Mount will spend Christmas behind bars after being convicted for defrauding clients. Stacey Knott investigates his downfall.



Tony Mount seemed to have it all.

He had risen from working class beginnings in northern England to become a prominent financial adviser in Nelson. He drove around town in an Aston Martin convertible, had a large house in the Maitai Valley, sponsored Nelson Opera in the Park, and started an eco-paint company.

But after a long-running fraud investigation, his world came crashing down this week when he was jailed for ripping off and stealing from clients who trusted him with their investments.


Mount was found guilty in October of 74 counts of fraud. At his sentencing in Nelson District Court yesterday he was jailed for six years and nine months and ordered to serve a minimum of half the sentence.

He has lodged an appeal against his convictions.

After two different cases against him, one criminal, the other civil, Mount was finally caught out. Over a decade, he stole $510,671 from the 18 complainants in the indictment by inflating the purchase price of investments bought on their behalf, and by deflating the sale price of investments sold or redeemed.

In the civil case, brought by 20 investors, Mount has been ordered to pay $2.84 million, plus interest, expected to be about $900,000.

Mount is still listed as a director for Independent Financial Consultants in Nelson and the sole director of paint company BioPaints. In 1999, he was a finalist in the Financial Planner of the Year awards.

Back then, he was a credible man about town.

He had taken in a child of a friend who had died, was a supporter of the arts and was used as a source of media comment on the financial world.
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However, 15 years later, sitting alone in a courtroom, his offending was laid bare, as well as what the judge, Crown prosecutor and others said was his arrogant and untrustworthy character.

Mount, who represented himself at the trial and sentencing , has shown no remorse and seemed almost uninterested in what was happening.

Judge Arthur Tompkins highlighted Mount's "arrogant and aggressive fashion" that he used to "deflect and endeavour to defeat" his clients when they questioned him. Clients had trusted their life savings to Mount, who betrayed their trust to support his "lavish lifestyle", he said.

And, it was "particularly galling to the number of clients living around Nelson, who see that manifestation of that lavish lifestyle in the region".

Mount had maintained his innocence by filing appeals against his convictions, and prison was clearly the only outcome, the judge said.

"In many respects he is a stranger to honesty. What he says disconnects to what he does."

Clients and others who had involvement or interest in the case, including those who had just been involved in the civil case, listened with bated breath as Tompkins delivered his verdict.

Lawyer for the clients represented in the civil case, Rick Farr, spoke to them afterwards. He congratulated them on their tenacity for sticking to bring him to justice, despite Mount's at times "lavish defence".

Crown lawyer Jackson Webber told the court Mount's "gross breaches of trust were obvious"; he was "belligerent when challenged" and his victims were elderly and vulnerable.

It was motivated offending "influenced by greed and the lifestyle Mount was living".

He had not shown a "shred of remorse"

and lacked good character, Webber said. Mount's dishonest and manipulative actions from the first trial showed this, he said.

Mount's downfall has been attributed to one of his clients, Douglas Gregory. He had invested $300,000 from the sale of his mother's house with Mount in 2002. He said Mount was initially "so helpful" with his investments.

Gregory started to look into his investments, which he expected to get a lot more back from. He said calculations showed he should have made $100,000 in profit with his investment.

He had to work hard to convince others Mount was not to be trusted. "He was an icon around town," he recalled.

Gregory first went to lawyer Rick Farr in 2010. Farr visited Mount to relay the concerns.

"What struck me when I first went into his office was how large it was and he was the only person in it. That started to ring alarm bells for me because of what Mr Gregory had explained to us."

Farr recalled Mount refusing to entertain any suggestion of "rather dubious accounting. After that meeting he sent me an email demanding an apology from Mr Gregory".

At that point, they decided to get the police involved, but after realising this was not going to be immediate, and Farr finding he had a number of clients who had invested with Mount who had similar concerns, he put out a public notice to get investors to meet. About 30 came along.

They formed a plaintiffs' group, and had Mount's assets frozen in November 2010. Farr took on 20 plaintiffs in the case. Their's was a civil case, going on at the same time police were investigating the criminal case.

Farr says Mount's records were sparse and difficult to get hold of.

Through the process, it was discovered Mount had advanced $3.5 million personally to his company, BioPaints, with his income being a tiny fraction of that.

During the civil case, almost every preliminary order that was made was appealed or a review was sought, Farr said. It was expensive, and it was delaying the civil case.

Farr said they had to be careful to keep the two cases separate. Mount wanted the criminal case to be finished before the civil could start.

And, when it came to Mount's wealth, there were clear indicators of it.

"An indication of his wealth was his assets - one of them was his Aston Martin motor car, he bought for some $300,000 and sold it for what we were told was $120,000."

He doesn't know where that car went. Mount also had a property in St Arnaud that was sold around the same time. This was Mount dispersing his assets, says Farr.

Mount's house, valued in 2012, is worth $830,000.

There is freezing order on it so Mount cannot sell it, but the court is in the process of selling it.

There was $1.4m in cash that was frozen, though of that $800,000 was "released to him on application to the court to fund his lifestyle and his legal defences".

It was the plaintiffs' money being used against them.

Farr calls Mount a bully. He bullied his clients "into accepting what he was saying as gospel".

To keep the civil case going, they got a litigation funder on-board, LPF Group. Farr believes this was the first time this has happened in Nelson.

"The expense of the case and their [clients'] exposure to adverse costs was a real concern to a lot of people who had already lost a lot of money; a lot were older people."

If LPF had not got involved, Farr wonders if the case would have proceeded.

Farr is reluctant to comment on searching out Mount's other assets.

"Suffice to say we have some work still. The matter is not over yet."

Detective Paul Heathcote took on the criminal case in 2010, when he was approached by Gregory. Due to resources and other priorities, police were unable to look into his complaint until September 2010. When they did, Heathcote soon saw it was a case worth looking into.

Police executed a search warrant to get Gregory's documents. "From what we found there, that gave me the belief there may be other clients affected."

They got a second search warrant to recover other clients' files. "That's when the investigation commenced in earnest."

Police sent a letter to all known clients, past and present, explaining what they were doing, and what the allegation was.

There was about 100 of them, and about 80 responded, making official statements and providing documents.

Heathcote focused on a method he likened to "'clipping the ticket both when he sold and purchased", where Mount purchased and sold investments but misreported the values to his clients.

He put it to the clients there was "maybe some misappropriation of funds" from their portfolios.

Police needed to make a deeper examination to see the amounts, so called in expert help.

Investigators from Inland Revenue and the Serious Fraud Office were recruited. Initially, all they had was the paper evidence. Police seized Mount's computers and cloned them, but were unable to make sense of the programs and data on them.

Heathcote said he had to cut off offending before 2000.

"That was as far back as we could obtain banking records. It is my belief this was going on before then."

It was a challenge, he said. "It was always going to be complex and difficult, based on the evidence we had."

In an ideal world, the Serious Fraud Office would have taken it, he said.

However, their resources were stretched.

The Mount case was supervised and managed from the Nelson District, with additional national funding. It took about 12 months to investigate and bring to court.

And, in that first trial in July 2013, Mount handed over a laptop with printed documents. Mount intended it to confirm he was telling the truth and his figures were correct. It proved to do the opposite. It allowed police access to the figures provided to police by Mount's broker. Mount also lied to police, telling them it was the same laptop police had seized earlier.

The first trial was aborted, and the second trial began in October this year.

Mount's activities had been the focus of Heathcote's work for the past four years.

It's also been the most resourced investigation, in time and money, the district had undertaken.

It was of "huge" public interest, he believed. "More to the point, this man needed to be brought to account. He has put a lot of people in financial difficultly in their elderly and retirement life."

There was huge breaches of trust between Mount and his clients. "Some he was on personal terms with, and knowing he was stealing from them has had a lot of the clients distraught."

The Crown, police and courts are still working out if there will be additional charges.

Victim feels for Mount

While Tony Mount has been called a stranger to honesty, the man who got the ball rolling on his downfall can't help but feel sorry for him.

Speaking to the Nelson Mail after convicted fraudster Tony Mount's sentencing, former client Douglas Gregory said he was after justice, and got it.

Gregory has been involved in both the civil and the criminal cases against Mount.

He has been credited for bringing Mount's dealings to police attention. He went to police with his concerns in 2010, after doing the sums himself.

The retired plumber modestly says: "I'm just like that, it's one of my things.

"I didn't do anything special. I only initially did it just for my own satisfaction really, it just happened it did steamroll a bit when we went to the police."

Gregory wasn't looking to make any money from the civil case. Both cases were about bringing Mount to justice.

"I feel sorry for him in a way, but he was particularly arrogant especially when I was trying to get paperwork from him to make some judgments. He wasn't clever, his figures weren't clever," he said.

Geoff Gudsell was involved in the civil case seeking investors' money back. He had invested with Mount, before the year 2000.

He attended an initial public meeting in 2010, called by lawyer Rick Farr who wanted to gauge how many clients Mount may have ripped off.

"I don't think at the time we realised what a tremendous fight and battle he was going to put up.

"All of us in the end felt, while we did not expect to return any of the money, we have at least obtained some justice."

Between the two cases, clients spoken to said they hoped it would put him behind bars, as well as take away his assets.

In the past, Mount had claimed to come from humble beginnings - a Yorkshire coal-miner's son.

Clients spoken to yesterday questioned how he could have stolen off the same sort of people as he had come from.

Timeline

1997: Tony Mount and wife Kaye become guardians of a friend's daughter after her parents die in a road accident in the Lewis Pass.

1999: Mount is a finalist in the inaugural Financial Planner of the Year awards.

2009: Mount's paint company, BioPaints, is the new principal sponsor for Opera in the Park, offering free tickets for 2010.

February 2010:: In a profile on Mount, he says his father worked in a Yorkshire coal mine for 30 years. In 1987 he set up his financial planning business, after reading an article that advised people to get a good financial planner.

September 2010: Mount is charged with fraud. He tells the Mail the "charge came out of the blue". After his first court appearance, at least 40 clients contact police. A further article says he faces a further 58 fraud charges, with more possible.

October 2010: Mount fires all BioPaints employees. A group of investors take civil action against Mount to try to freeze some of his assets until the police criminal investigation is complete. Mount later appeals the decision.

November 2010: Mount's BioPaints is no longer sponsoring Opera in the Park

March 2011: Mount committed to stand trial on 137 fraud charges.

April 2011: A group of former clients successfully apply to have Mount's assets refrozen.

October 2011: Police lay 390 new charges against Mount, bringing it to 527 fraud charges totalling $1.4 million.

June 2013: Stands trial in the Nelson District Court on 77 fraud charges. Mount represented by defence lawyer Jonathan Eaton. Crown alleges Mount skimmed money from his clients' investments by telling them investments cost more than they did and told them investments had sold for less than they actually realised. Clients testify they did not receive a lot of information on their investments.

July 2013: The trial is aborted as more information comes to light.

October 2014: A new trial held in the Nelson District Court. Expert witnesses called, including from the Serious Fraud Office, and Inland Revenue. It is revealed that Mount's trial in 2013 was aborted after he handed over a laptop that had a working copy of a program called IMS on it which Mount used for his business.

Police had cloned his computers when he was first charged in 2010, but were unable to make sense of data on them, because the IMS software used a specific operating system. With the laptop they can make sense of data and it backs up their findings.

Detective Paul Heathcote tells the court Mount had claimed it was the same laptop, seized and returned in 2011. Evidence proves otherwise.

Mount elects not to give evidence. Tompkins finds Mount guilty of all charges.

December 2014: Mount sentenced to six years nine months on criminal charges.

Mount wanted a High Court decision that he should pay clients in the civil case $2.9m, overturned. The Appeal Court dismisses his appeal. Mount ordered to pay $2.84m, plus interest expected to be about $900,000, bringing the total to about $3.7m.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Man jailed for fatally stabbing friend

For Nelson Mail/Fairfax Media
Nelson man Kirk Day has been sentenced to six and a half years for killing Carl Joblin over a lit cigarette and a broken guitar.
A Nelson High Court jury found Day guilty of manslaughter in September  this year, for stabbing Joblin to death in a Nile St house on August 4 last year.
Today, Justice Joseph Williams sentenced Day to six and a half years imprisonment with no minimum set.  Day has already served 18 months of the sentence while he was remanded in custody at Papanui Prison in Christchurch.
Over the course of the trial, the court heard that Day killed Joblin after a group of five, made up of Day, Joblin, siblings Delrose and Nathan Innes and friend Peter Harvey had been drinking at a Nile St house Day’s parents had rented and Day lived in.
Harvey lit a cigarette inside, angering Day who then pushed Harvey over and straddled him. Joblin pushed Day off Harvey, causing Day to fall on his guitar and break it.
Day then stabbed Joblin with a 15cm length blade kitchen knife, inflicting fatal wounds.
Day fled the scene, and crashed his car in Whakatu Drive, where he was arrested.
During the trial the  six-man, six-woman jury heard from witnesses who were at the house at the time of the attack and emergency services who attended both scenes.
They also heard from Day’s former partner Zelia Smart who spoke about Day’s mental and addiction issues. Smart considered herself his support person.
During the trial, Day’s parents spoke about his history of panic attacks. Day also gave evidence and spoke of gaps in his recollection of events on the night. He had insisted he had no intention to kill Joblin.
He said he had been experiencing a panic attack that night, and had taken a knife to try to get a group of visitors to leave. He said he did not remember stabbing Joblin.
The trial was presided over by Justice Joseph Williams, with defence lawyers Tony Bamford and Luke Acland representing Day, while the Crown was represented by Jackson Webber and Sophie O’Donoghue.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy hashtag creates social media buzz

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/inspire-me/10584104/Happy-hashtag-creates-social-media-buzz

For Nelson Mail/Fairfax Media

A Nelson businesswoman is hashtagging her way to happiness, and wants others to jump on board.
Nelson leadership coach Suzi McAlpine aims to empower people when they feel blue by getting them to think of what makes you happy, draw it, and put it on the internet.
McAlpine is aiming for her #myhappything campaign to become a movement, to get people to realise the power they have in lifting their spirits.
McAlpine said she was recently "dealing with some disappointments with human nature" and realised while she was not the only person who experienced ups and down, she could control how she reacted to them.
"I realised there's always something in our power we can do to lift our spirits."
She was inspired by Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl's famous quote: "everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
Meditating is her "happy thing". She spent her week asking people she met, clients, passengers on a plane or people on the street "what's one thing you do, which makes you feel happy, or lifts your spirits, when you do it?"
In getting people to think about what made them happy, she said it was a good experience in appreciation.
"There is enjoyment found in doing it, it's really fun, they have fun drawing the thing, in the process of doing it, they already feel happy."
So far, people had posted that they liked spending time with their family, hugs from their children, working out, and helping other people .
"I want people to connect with the message...there's always something you can do to feel better."
To take part in the campaign, write down your ‘happy thing' on a piece of paper - it can be a sketch, a few words, or whatever you feel helps to describe it, take a photo of you holding the sign, and Post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #myhappything.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Court told farmer refused to feed starving stock

For Nelson Mail/Fairfax Media

A court has been told of council officers seeing dead and malnourished stock at a dairy farm near Murchison, and a farmer who allegedly refused to buy feed for them.
Dairy farmer Phillip Woolley is denying charges brought by Tasman District Council at the Nelson District Court, relating to effluent at his Matakitaki farm.
Yesterday was the first day of the trial, presided over by Judge Jeff Smith.
Woolley, from Tuamarina in Marlborough, farm manager Hendrik Jordaan and Awarua Farm are charged with multiple breaches of the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) and the Resource Management Act which allegedly saw ponding of effluent in breach of the TRMP, stored effluent solids on unsealed ground, also in breach of the TRMP, and grazing a herd in a manner that may have resulted in the discharge of effluent and sediment into a nearby watercourse.
The charges date back to November 2012.
Jordaan indicated through his counsel, Tony Bamford, that he would plead guilty to the charges and file for discharge without conviction.
Lawyer David Clark appeared for Awarua Farm and Woolley.
There were a total of 16 charges against the three defendants; 12 of those were against Woolley and the farm.
The TDC, represented by lawyer Antoinette Besier, said the farmer had long history of enforcement orders dating back to the council's first inspection in 2004.
The Environment Court had issued enforcement orders in 2006 with respect to the management of dairy farm effluent.
The prosecution's first witness, TDC compliance officer Kathryn Bunting, described the farm as "very large", developed over two old river terraces, with 880 cows. It had streams running through it, and it was estimated to be worth $9.5 million, with Woolley owning 99 per cent of the shares and his wife Suzanne the other 1 per cent.
Bunting said the farm's effluent discharge had to comply with the TRMP. Effluent had to be sealed to stop it contaminating water sources and it could not be pooled on a surface for more than an hour.
On November 1 2012 she saw "a number of compliance issues", with the storage of effluent in an unsealed area, pooling of it on a paddock and effluent being discharged into an unnamed stream as a result of intensive grazing.
She had also seen "many malnourished animals" while on the farm.
"It did stand out how much dead stock there was on the farm at that time."
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She said she spoke with a farmhand, who did not know about previous enforcement orders.
She saw farm workers trying to free stock caught in mud near the unnamed stream.
Former farm manager Hendrik Jordaan, who had worked at the farm from June 2012 to May 2013, was called as a prosecution witness. He described his time there as "stressful" and said Woolley did not give him any independence in funding for maintenance of the farm, even small items. Woolley was not often at the farm, and they communicated by phone and email.
He said he was concerned the cows did not have enough to eat. He asked Woolley for supplementary food for them on a number of occasions. He said Woolley was not interested in the the condition of his cows.
He said he decided to graze the "most under-fed and poorest condition" stock next to the stream for a day.
He said they were "desperate for feed".
"The feed was so scarce through the rest of the farm, Phil had not supplied feed for the cows."
He had told a farmhand to move the cows after one day of grazing near the unnamed stream but this was not done, and the TDC visited while Jordaan was on leave. The TDC saw two of the cows stuck in the mud, and sediments and effluent had gone into the stream.
Jordaan had suggested changes to the farm, but said Woolley did not act on them.
"Phil was well aware of issues of effluent ponding, but never did anything about it."
He wanted to buy concrete to ensure effluent was stored properly, but said Woolley would not give him permission.
He said he was in an "impossible position" at the farm as he did not have control over anything.
A former farm employee, Khyle Brookland, also described food shortages on the farm, and Woolley refusing to fix problems. He said Woolley told him to starve the stock.
The court also heard from TDC scientist Trevor James, who looked at the water quality in rivers and streams in the area, both up and downstream from the farm.
James said the TDC looked at water quality at several sites in the area, on an ongoing basis. Concentrations of the E coli bacteria (which came from animals) were higher after rain in the Matakitaki river. Levels were higher downstream than sample spots upstream from the farm.
He said the unnamed stream on the farm was an "unhealthy waterway system".
He said during rain contaminants ran off the farm and into the unnamed stream, which fed into the Matakitaki river. There was a risk to humans who used the river downstream from the farm as they could get ill from bacteria.
The hearing is to continue, with defence witnesses expected to be called today.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cancer battler keeps smiling

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/lifestyle-entertainment/weekend/9886465/Cancer-battler-keeps-smiling

Nelson Mail/Fairfax Media

Stacey Knott talks with Annette Taylor , named this week as Nelson's Most Wonderful Woman.
It's been a rough year for Annette Taylor, but she still has an easy laugh, and a strong air of optimism.
The Nelson College director of boarding and international students was diagnosed with melanoma in April last year. She has cancerous tumours on her liver and spleen.
This week she was named Nelson's Most Wonderful Woman, chosen by Mayor Rachel Reese for her positive attitude through her battle.
Annette worked at Nelson College for Girls at the deputy principal from 2001 until 2008.
A formidable force who demanded respect from her students, she then moved to Nelson College in 2009 where she took on the role of assistant principal, then added director of boarding to her portfolio.
In June 2012 she added director of international students to her list of school roles.
Ambitious and driven, she was meant to be a principal by now, but the cancer changed her plans.
Since she began at the school she has lived on site, in a house near the boarding houses.
Part of her role included travelling abroad on marketing trips, and it was after returning from Thailand in term one last year that she noticed something wasn't quite right. She wondered why she wasn't recovering from the jetlag.
Her skin was also a darker colour than she was used to.
She went to her doctor who ran extensive tests.
"Sadly, investigations were done and it was identified that I had metastatic melanoma in my liver and in my spleen."
This was the second time she'd been hit with cancer.
Back in June 2005, a melanoma was discovered on Annette's scalp while she was teaching at Girl's College. She had it checked out after her fortieth birthday. Her doctor referred her to a general surgeon who removed it.
It was a shock for her when results came back as a high grade melanoma. It was cut out and rigorous tests were done to ensure it had not spread.
"When I returned back to the role, everything was normal. I was keeping out of the sun, was wearing hats and lathering on the sunscreen."
She was tested rigorously for a spread of the cancer and did everything she was asked to do. And she was clear, until this time last year.
An ultrasound revealed Annette had tumours on her liver and spleen. The cancer was back.
"Those cancer cells from my head were sent to my body all those years ago, but were lying dormant."
The darkened, almost aubergine skin tone is melanosis, caused by a hyper pigmentation of the skin, which is a direct relation to the liver.
"I was devastated to find it had come back, but then relieved it wasn't anywhere else on my body. Melanoma is sneaky. Once it's inside you, it can transfer anywhere."
Annette was diagnosed on April 30 last year. On July 11 she was put on a drug trial, as one of 19 patients taking part in in New Zealand.
The trial sees her visit Wellington monthly for scans to see if the cancer is shrinking, or spreading.
At this stage, Annette is happy to report that the tumours are shrinking.
The drugs she is on are a pill form of chemotherapy. She takes two lots of tablets twice a day.
"So far the tumours are shrinking and there are no new tumours, which is good."
The trial will end in July this year, though if everything goes to plan, she understands she will stay on them.
If not, she will be put on intravenous chemotherapy.
"And that's it, really."
The drugs have similar side effects to intravenous chemotherapy, though she has not suffered hair loss.
She suffers fevers, sweats and a burning sensation in her feet.
Her tastes have changed as well. Coffee, which she once loved passionately, is out. So is yoghurt, and she eats minimal cheese and sweets.
She feels the cold, and her body struggles to regulate her temperature.
"For a while there the boys were walking around in singlets and I was wearing a sweatshirt because I felt the cold," she says with a smile.
"I have had a lot of side effects, but in saying that, the treatment outweighed those. You take each day as it comes and you decide ‘let's hope today is a good day'."
While there is no guarantees with the drug, it is currently working for her, and she takes comfort in the fact it may help others in the future.
She's frank about her condition and fairly pragmatic.
"I haven't been given any length on time, if this trial isn't successful then the next step is intravenous chemotherapy.
"I know it's serious because it's in my liver and spleen, I don't want it spreading, often melanoma spreads to your lungs or pancreas. It is serious - it's metastatic but these drugs are working. That's what you have to hold on to really."
By sharing her story, she urges anyone with a slight suspicion of skin cancer to get it checked out early on.
Her other piece of advice is protect your skin.
Growing up in New Zealand, summers by the water were normal for her.
From Ohakune, she would spend summer days at Lake Taupo.
"I was in my togs in the morning and out of my togs at night. As you got older, you wanted to be browned."
Now, she urges anyone who wants a tan to go fake.
"Tanned skin can lead to melanoma."
She also walks around Nelson College dishing out sunscreen.
It was coming back to work this year, after three terms off, that she needed both mentally and physically, she says.
Though it's exhausting, by the end of the day she feels supported by the school staff and students.
"Boarding became a passion for me, so have international students. They are very diverse and multicultural, every day is an interesting day," she says with an easy laugh.
The students have been kind and accepting of her altered appearance and illness.
In her first classes back, she addressed what was going on, right away.
She recalls telling them: ‘I am going to tell you about who I am now.
"Some days I am going to come in and drink copious amounts of water and I am going to have to teach sitting down. Other days I will be perspiring looking really bad but my skin is always going to be this colour.'
"They are incredibly respectful of difference."
Annette is unsure if her skin will return to its normal tone. Doctors had told her they had rarely seen the skin condition she has.
"It's hard to live with the stares I get, particularly in supermarkets or the bank. It doesn't always worry me but some comments I have snapped back at. I'm not usually like that but there's been a couple of times."
"It's people's natural curiosity. Some days I am darker than others it depends how tired I am. It depends on the colours I wear as well."
She avoids white and cream coloured clothing, she jokes.
"People ask me how I am, my usual response is: ‘As good as can be expected,' it's not a flippant answer."
When the cancer has gone, Annette plans on traipsing around France.
"I absolutely adore France. I have French connections with a wonderful family there, so that's what I would like to do."
By then, hopefully her tastebuds will be back to normal to enjoy the nation's brie and creme brulees.