31 January 2022

'Naïve' young woman linked to bizarre $25,000 extortion attempt

| Albert McKnight
Keona Rosalie Watson

Keona Rosalie Watson, 20, has pleaded guilty to two charges. Photo: Facebook.

A “naïve” and “easily-led” young woman has admitted her involvement in a strange series of events, including being linked to an attempt to extort $25,000 from an unsuspecting victim.

Keona Rosalie Watson, 20, pleaded guilty to charges of making a demand with a threat to kill by joint commission and being knowingly concerned in an aggravated burglary before appearing in the ACT Supreme Court to begin her sentencing process on Friday (28 January).

“I was going to say the offender is a bit like Walter Mitty, but that’s a bit unfair to Walter Mitty,” her barrister James Sabharwal of Burley Griffin Chambers said.

Walter Mitty is a fictional character who seeks escape from reality through daydreaming.

While Mr Sabharwal continued, Acting Justice Verity McWilliam asked him, “so your submission is that she’s naïve and easily led?”

“That’s right,” he replied.

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Court documents say Watson became aware there was an apparent “hit” out for a man she knew in 2021, and on 13 August, she entered into an agreement with a co-accused that he would kill the man for money.

She told the co-accused she knew where he might be able to find him.

While she was not present, two co-accused went to a house in Chapman, where a resident was friends with the man, and told a housemate to give them $25,000 or they would kill the person they were looking for.

Eventually, they took $2000 from the housemate and Watson was paid $500 for providing the address.

She was also knowingly involved in a burglary committed at the same house in Chapman on 15 August, although she didn’t go to the house in person.

Prosecutor Christina Muthurajah said by Friday, Watson had spent 133 days in custody since she was arrested in August 2021.

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The court heard a discussion around whether it was appropriate for her to be sent for an eligibility assessment to the Drug and Alcohol Sentencing List.

Justice McWilliam said a medical report had found her offending was a product of her drug problem.

“After I’ve heard everything today, I feel like drug court would be best,” Watson said.

Justice McWilliam said she would undergo such an eligibility assessment, remanded her in custody and adjourned the matter to 18 February.

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