Young mum walks out of jail after hearing of child's death
A YOUNG mum jailed for drug dealing and two armed robberies was so distressed at the news her child had died that she reacted by walking out of jail.
Renee Rose-Claire Stothard was serving time in the low security women's prison at Numinbah Valley near the Gold Coast when she received the phone call about the tragedy in October last year.
Ipswich Magistrates Court heard Stothard was detected by security staff 7kms away before returning to the prison.
Stothard, 31, from Collingwood Park, appeared before court via video-link from jail and pleaded guilty to escape by person in lawful custody on October 4, 2019; possession of dangerous drugs at Booval on August 10, 2019; possession of dangerous drugs at Collingwood Park on August 5, 2019; and possession of drug utensils.
Defence lawyer Matthew Fairclough said that when Stothard received the distressing phone call about the death of the young child "she was understandably distraught".
He said the phone call at the jail was recorded and what she then did had not been planned or well thought out, but been an abuse of trust at the low security prison.
"It occurred out of the blue. Led to her making an irrational decision," Mr Fairclough said.
"And she was observed not far from the prison."
However, magistrate David Shepherd said that in the facts "she was seen 7.4kms away".
"She used public transport or a taxi. She was picked up. It was not a run of the mill escape," Mr Fairclough said.
He sought a penalty of six to four months jail given the circumstances.
Mr Shepherd said one of the drug charges coincides with drug offences dealt with in the Supreme Court for which she received a significant jail term.
He said the real concern was her escape.
"While it was dreadful news and a shock to you is understandable and distressing. But to escape from a correctional centre is a very serious matter," Mr Shepherd said.
"Had you simply taken advantage of that trust in you as you were considered a low-risk prisoner the sentence would have been considerably higher than the one I will impose," Mr Shepherd said.
"General deterrence has to be taken into account. Security of a correctional centre can't be overstated, and people cannot take advantage of whether in a state of stress."
Mr Shepherd sentenced Stothard to six months jail (concurrent) on each of the drug possession charges.
He imposed a six month jail sentence for the escape offence - to be cumulative, saying he'd taken into account the circumstances, the loss she suffered and its obvious impact on her.
He also noted that she returned to the centre when she was detected.
Stothard remains eligible to begin her application for parole in five months - from October 10.
In April 2017 Stothard was sentenced by the Supreme Court to a 3 ½ year jail term for drug trafficking after already serving time for a violent Ipswich home invasion and robbery. She was still subject to parole (from an original six year sentence) when those drug offences began in 2014.