Nene King claims friends stole from her while she was addicted to drugs — (The Age – Victoria)

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The Age – Victoria

Mark Russell

Nene King, the former editor of Woman’s Day and Australian Women’s Weekly magazines and close friend of Kerry Packer’s, knew she was being robbed when there was a credit card transaction for a Hungry Jack’s meal, a court heard today.

She never ate at Hungry Jack’s.

Ms King was giving evidence in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in the case of her former friend, Colin Hahne, who has been charged with stealing more than $223,000 from her between December 2008 and September 2009.

Hahne, 43, faces 42 charges involving theft, dishonesty and forgery offences.

Ms King, 69, claims that she had a drug addiction at the time and was smoking up to 10 joints a day, as well as taking Prozac.

She was spending $300 an ounce for cannabis once or twice a month.

“It was a very difficult time,” Ms King told the court. “I must be honest, I was not well.”

Hahne and another man had been living with Ms King when she claims her money was being stolen.

Ms King said she went through her bank statements and found thousands of dollars in credit card transactions she knew nothing about.

“There were many unauthorised transactions on my card,” she said.

Ms King said she believed she had lost more than $500,000.

Under cross examination by defence lawyer Sarah Leighfield, Ms King said she had showered Hahne and the other man with gifts, but had been sent broke by the alleged fraud.

Ms King was in hospital for an operation when the two men looked after her house and pets, so she decided to pay for a trip to Paris and Monte Carlo for them as a thank you gift.

She claimed to be on a holiday in America in May 2009 when her Westpac and American Express cards both bounced and she realised she was broke.

She owed $44,000 on her American Express card and $32,000 on her Westpac Visa card.

“I thought I still had a lot of money in those days,” she said.

“I worked hard for a very long time and earned a lot of money.”

King was known as “the queen of cash and trash” during the 1980s and 1990s, paying huge sums of money for paparazzi photographs of celebrities.

She became editor of Woman’s Day in 1988 and boosted its circulation massively, setting an Australian magazine sales record of 1.4 million copies.

She later became the first woman board member of Kerry Packer’s Australian Consolidated Press empire.

But after the death of her third husband, Patrick Bowring, in a diving accident in 1996, King battled depression and addiction to medicine and drugs.

Her life is set to be featured in the ABC’s two-part series Paper Giants: Magazine Wars, where her character will be played by Mandy McElhinney, who stars as “Rhonda” in the popular AAMI car insurance ads.

Magazine Wars will tell the story of Ms King and New Idea editor Dulcie Boling during the 1990s, “who started a circulation war that totally rewrote the rules of journalism in Australia”, according to a statement from the ABC.

Rachel Griffiths (Brothers & Sisters, Six Feet Under) will play Boling.

The preliminary hearing for Hahne continues.