A magistrate has lashed a Kingaroy woman for failing to appear in court, telling her it was not up to her to decide if or when she began a prison sentence.
A magistrate has lashed a Kingaroy woman for failing to appear in court, telling her it was not up to her to decide if or when she began a prison sentence.

Pregnant Kingaroy mum narrowly avoids jail for drug charges

A pregnant Kingaroy woman has narrowly avoided prison after being charged with a string of drug offences and failing to appear in court.

Sandra Jane Owen faced Kingaroy Magistrates Court on January 18 for a string of drug-related charges committed between April and August 2020.

These included possessing meth on two separate occasions, with the most serious being a possession charge when she was found to have been in possession of 2.9 grams of pure methamphetamine – worth thousands of dollars.

She was also charged with possessing ecstasy tablets and restricted drugs, as well as drug utensils and a knife.

Owen had been due to front Kingaroy court on December 4, but failed to appear – leading to a warrant being issued.

Her lawyer, Mark Werner, told the court his client had become “scared” at the prospect of prison time.

“She did hand herself in – once she’d handed herself in, the police gave her bail and she attended court on January 4,” Mr Werner said.

“It is unfortunate that she didn‘t attend court in December, she had an appointment to see her children.

“She got scared because certainly, she realised she was at risk (of prison) and emotional and because of perhaps being pregnant as well it just got too much for her.

“She then attended our office and I advised her to hand herself in.”

Police prosecutor sergeant Barry Stevens provided the court a four-page criminal history which included previous drug offences.

Sergeant Stevens also listed several similar cases and pushed for a term of imprisonment, suggesting Owen should spend six months of a sentence behind bars.

“She couldn’t be said to have put an early plea because it took a warrant to get her back to court,” sergeant Stevens noted.

Mr Werner conceded prison time was on the cards, but pushed for a suspended sentence or immediate parole.

“As somebody who did co-operate with the police and has always been pleading guilty to these offences … she could be given a last opportunity to serve her imprisonment in the community and avail herself of drug counselling,” he said.

“Of course, under that supervision and being pregnant she has additional reasons to remain drug free.”

Magistrate Andrew Sinclair admonished Owen for her usage of ice while he handed down his sentence.

“Ice is not the lifestyle choice. It‘s a threat to the fabric of society, every person who takes or contains or participates in the purchase of ice assists the trafficking networks that peddle it and are partly responsible for its prevalence in the community,” he said.

“Some people, you are not one of them, when under the influence of ice commit the most horrible offences and ice needs to be regarded as something which there should be a very little tolerance for by the courts.”

He also took particular umbrage with her failure to appear to face the charges.

“I have to state this very loudly and clearly to people who are charged with criminal offences and choose to avoid court because they wish to avoid the consequences of going to prison,” he said.

“It‘s not up to the prisoners to determine if and when their custodial sentence begins.”

Owen began to cry as the magistrate listed her sentences.

For possessing almost 3 grams of meth, she received a 12 month prison sentence.

She also received one month for possessing a drug utensil, one month for a subsequent utensil charge, she was convicted and not further punished for possessing an unendorsed drug and a knife.

A further two drug possession charges earned her another month each and she was convicted and not further punished for possessing a restricted item.

All prison sentences were to be served concurrently.

Magistrate Sinclair then sentenced Owen to a further one month in prison for failing to appear, to be served cumulatively.

In total, Owen‘s head sentence stood at 13 months, however Magistrate Sinclair granted her immediate parole, taking into account her “personal circumstances”.

All convictions were recorded.

South Burnett

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