A TWEED mum who helped her son and his teenage mates steal thousands of dollars worth of food, including cold meats, hotdogs, cheeses and chocolates, has received a suspended jail sentence after a Lismore District Court Judge recognised she was fearful of the teenager.
Debra Watson, 49, from Tweed Heads South, pleaded guilty to two counts of break-and-enter in company to steal; and goods in custody suspected of being stolen.
Watson's role was to drive the stolen goods home in her car following two robberies - at 2.30am on April 22 last year at Coco's Fruit Barn on Minjungbal Drive, and then at 1am on April 24 at Twin Towns Junior Football Club.
In police facts presented to court, three youths broke into Coco's using a crowbar before loading up shopping trolleys with more than $12,000 worth of foodstuffs that included cold meats, cigarettes and tobacco.
Then at 1.17am on April 25 four teenagers wearing hooded jackets to hide their faces and wearing “skate-type clothing” broke into the football club. They were filmed by CCTV.
The teenagers filled milk crates and garbage bins with bottles of alcohol valued in excess of $890, and stole a television from a wall. A tomahawk was used to smash a poker machine.
In a police raid just 24 hours later at 2.40am on Anzac Day a large quantity of stolen goods were found stashed inside Watson's home. The goods included confectionary, alcohol, a digital camera, LCD television, handicam video camera, two mobile phones, an iPod, printer, and a projector.
Cross-examined by her barrister Peter O'Connor, Watson explained she became involved in the robberies because her son was violent “like his father” and “I was frightened”.
Mr O'Connor said she was introduced to such conduct through her son's activities and was “vulnerable to pressure from her son and unable to resist the pressure put on her”.
Judge James Black sentenced Watson to 22 months jail, immediately suspended after finding special circumstances -“a most unfortunate and highly unusual situation”.
Watson, who spent four months in custody, was ordered to repay nearly $4000 in compensation..