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The Sydney Morning Herald
May 16, 2007 – 1:39 PM
A COMFIT of the man whom the mother accused of attacking her and her baby.
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A young mother who falsely claimed she and her three-month-old baby were attacked by a drug addict with a mohawk has apologised to a Sydney court for sending police on a wild goose chase.
The 23-year-old mother-of-three admitted in Balmain court today to having caused the hoax after blowing her $3500 government baby bonus and being too afraid to tell her partner.
The woman, who cannot be named in NSW for legal reasons involving the identification of children connected to a crime, appeared before Magistrate Ross Clugston charged with making a false representation leading to a police investigation.
Reading from the police version of events, Mr Clugston said the woman had alleged to Leichhardt police that on April 16 she was attacked in Flood Street by a man with a striking red mohawk.
She told police the man, who was armed with a screwdriver, forced her to hand over $3500 she had just withdrawn from the Leichhardt ANZ bank.
The woman told police her alleged attacker then slammed the side of her head into a tree and overturned a stroller in which her three-month-old baby boy was sleeping.
Mr Clugston said her hoax had extended to a public appeal at a press conference organised by police to catch the offender, during which she said she wanted the attacker “dead”.
“Police made inquiries which revealed that she did not have an ANZ bank account at the Leichhardt branch,” Mr Clugston said.
As the woman stood before the court dressed in a black skirt and high heels, Mr Clugston said when she was confronted by police during a re-interview on April 24, she told them she had “panicked”.
“At the time she had spent all of the $3500 government baby bonus and was afraid to tell her boyfriend because they were in debt to his family,” Mr Clugston said.
The woman’s Legal Aid solicitor Robin Fraser said that she was pleading guilty to the charge and asked the court to take that into account as a demonstration of her “contrition and remorse”.
Ms Fraser said that the woman had lived with her new partner in Leichhardt for only 10 months.
She was formerly from Port Macquarie, but had little contact with her family and no relatives in Sydney.
Ms Fraser said the woman, who had two children in custody to a previous partner, suffered from post-natal depression, for which she was taking anti-depressants and receiving psychological counselling.
“She felt very bad and guilty for what she had done, she struggles to be able to explain her behaviour, she was under financial stress,” Ms Fraser said.
She said the woman relied on the income of her partner – who was an apprentice electrician – and the couple were in financial difficulties.
Mr Clugston said the maximum penalty for public mischief was a $5500 fine or 12 months’ jail.
“I take into account her plea of guilty and unblemished record, however the offence was a serious offence and caused police to spend a large amount of time investigating it,” he said.
Mr Clugston said it was for that reason he convicted the woman, but imposed the $800 fine and 12-month good behaviour bond while ordering her to continue with her counselling.
Outside the court, the woman was embraced by her partner, who said he was glad of the outcome.
“I’m glad it is all resolved I have been very supportive of her,” he said.
The woman then made a public apology for her actions: “I just want to say I am really sorry for causing all of this trouble, it was irresponsible but I am still responsible for my own actions.”