Coralie Delle-Coste, at right, stole $25,000 from her grandmother to repay drug dealers.
Coralie Delle-Coste, at right, stole $25,000 from her grandmother to repay drug dealers.

I stole from Gran to pay for drugs

A WOMAN who stole $25,000 from her own grandmother has claimed it was to repay drug dealers who were making threats to her family.

The admission was revealed at the Tweed Heads Local Court yesterday when Coralie Delle-Coste was sentenced for 27 counts of obtaining money by deception.

Delle-Coste received a suspended jail sentence and a good behaviour bond with strict conditions.

The 26-year-old’s solicitor, Phil Mulherin, told the court that a “harrowing” forum-sentencing session had uncovered numerous issues in Delle-Coste’s past.

A troubled childhood had led her to become embroiled in a world of drugs in Sydney, and she had been admitted to hospital more than 20 times for self-harm-related incidents.

“I can safely say in all honesty it was an emotionally charged and harrowing experience,” Mr Mulherin said of the forum sentencing.

He said Delle-Coste began stealing the money to pay the drug dealers who made threats to harm members of her family, specifically her father.

Initially the drug dealers wanted $15,000, but the money they demanded continued to increase.

But Delle-Coste did not want to use her past as an excuse.

“She said she was not going to hide behind her history and would repay the money,” Mr Mulherin said.

“There is no doubting the severity of these offences and the quantity.”

Magistrate Michael Dakin said: “The breach of trust of a vulnerable victim is breath-taking”.

“The offence is aggravated because of the relation of the offender to the victim. Having regard to the victim’s age she was a vulnerable person, in my view,” Mr Dakin said.

The magistrate deliberated about whether to send Delle-Coste to prison, with each of the 27 charges having a maximum prison term of five years.

But Mr Dakin decided to give her a chance to complete a draft intervention plan created as a result of forum sentencing.

Delle-Coste will manage to avoid actual time in prison if she completes everything required, and goes everywhere required as part of the plan.

And she will also have to repay an outstanding amount of $22,213 to Suncorp Metway.

Delle-Coste has a nine-month suspended jail sentence and nine-month good-behaviour bond to contend with should she not complete the plan.

According to police evidence, Della-Coste used the bankcard 27 times to take $25,000 over theperiod of a month.

She had moved into her 85-year-old grandmother’s Tweed Heads house with her mother from Sydney to provide care for the pensioner on June 11 and was taking money by July 15.

Della-Coste memorised her grandmother’s PIN number after seeing her type it into an automatic teller machine on one of her fortnightly trips to withdraw $500 of her $738.20 pension.

With each transaction, police say Della-Coste went into her grandmother’s bedroom and took the card from her purse, withdrew money at various ATMs, then returned the card to the purse without telling her grandmother.

The last theft was onAugust 26 and Della-Coste handed herself in to police on August 30.

Under the forum-sentencing program, magistrates can order offenders to sit down with their victim, a facilitator and police to discuss the impact of their crime and come up with an intervention plan.

The plan can include forcing the offender to apologise to their victim, pay compensation or perform community work.

Delle-Coste had pleaded guilty at a hearing in September to all 27 charges.

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