Mum commits armed home invasion over drug rumour
ARMED with a baseball bat and kitchen knife, one mother was determined to take a vigilante approach to a rumour about a person supplying children with drugs.
Natasha Isabel Weston, 33, pleaded guilty to two charges in the Maroochydore District Court today, including entering a premises at night while armed with offensive instruments, and stealing.
Crown prosecutor Nicola Hamilton told the court that on January 1 last year, Weston was visiting friends at the Yandina caravan park, where there were rumours circulating that the victim who also lived at the caravan park was allegedly supplying drugs to children.
"This seemed to have been a catalyst for the offending," she said.
"The defendant mulled over this after returning home that night and, early that following morning, she returned to the caravan park and entered the complainant's caravan.
"She was holding a baseball bat and kitchen knife concealed in her jumper."
The court heard Weston entered the residence and when confronted by the victim, she stated she was there to "get the stuff" and sat down before pulling out the kitchen knife.
At this stage, one of the complainant's children entered the main area, where Weston stated "she wasn't going to bash her in front of her daughter".
Weston then accused the victim of selling drugs to children.
The court heard after the victim called police, she then left the caravan with her daughter to report the incident, where Weston then stole the victim's wallet, mobile phone, cigarettes and cannabis.
Police obtained CCTV footage from the caravan park, which identified Weston, and were unsuccessful multiple times in locating her.
On March 1, Weston, who is a mother-of-three, voluntarily attended the Nambour Police Station where she was interviewed by officers and admitted that she had acted on rumours, but stated she could not recall the whole incident as she was intoxicated at the time.
Ms Hamilton said a head sentence of 18 months to two years would be a suitable sentence, considering what a "frightening experience" it would have been for the victim and her children.
"While this is by no means particularly sophisticated in its planning or execution, this is a serious offence," she said.
"This was an armed home invasion at night and citizens have the right to feel safe in their own home.
"It's further aggravated as it was committed during the night with children present and the defendant was armed with two offensive instruments."
Weston's lawyer James Feely told the court a long period of probation would be more suitable, considering Weston's significant mental health issues at the time of the offending, which had been described as "unspecified, non-organic psychosis".
"That's manifested itself in this offending. Ms Weston's delusions are the complainant was dealing drugs to children," he said.
"Later in 2019, it manifested itself in particular to hallucinations about the activity of a paedophile ring.
"Her state of mind made her more liable to take action upon those rumours, that the person had been dealing drugs."
Weston received 12-months' probation in July last year for hurling abuse and spitting in the Yandina caravan park owner's face.
The court also heard Weston had been ejected from her housing commission after she damaged property last year because of the hallucinations of a paedophile ring, which was when her mental health issues began to be addressed.
Judge Suzanne Sheridan said while Weston should be congratulated on the steps she had been taking to rehabilitate herself, she must take into account the fear the victim and her daughter would have felt.
"The court must take a strong stance against home invasion," she said.
"Even though we don't have a victim statement, your actions that night must have scared the complainant and her daughter."
Ms Sheridan said Weston's continued engagement with parole would be critical to her recovery, management and likelihood of reoffending.
Weston was given a head sentence of 18 months jail, with an immediate parole release date.