A woman who founded a non-profit organisation to help the homeless has avoided a jail sentence after stealing mobile phones from four people.
Magistrate Glenn Theakston said the thefts by 33-year-old Ammie Louise Thelma Blinksell were unkind, simple and unsophisticated and he had considered imposing a custodial sentence due to their brazen nature.
He said while some may think the good behaviour orders that he ultimately imposed were a “fairly light outcome”, it was the best way to get the money back to the victims.
The ACT Magistrates Court has previously heard the offences took place between December 2020 to January 2021 and followed the same pattern.
Blinksell would contact a stranger on the online trading site Gumtree to buy their phone. When she met up with them, she’d take it without paying for it.
The phones were worth between about $800 and $850.
The court also heard Blinksell started a non-profit called Homeless Care Packs which provided much-needed necessities for homeless people, but when media reported the fact she had been charged in 2021 she was unable to continue operating it.
On Thursday (23 June), the prosecutor said the thefts appeared to also involve a second, unknown person as a getaway driver.
Blinksell’s Legal Aid lawyer said she had already paid $830 back to her victims, which was a substantial payment for someone on a modest income, and he estimated it would take a year to pay off the remaining $2500.
At the time of the offences, she had relapsed into amphetamine use after experiencing personal tragedies. Then her house was damaged in a fire in which she lost a dog.
She had been clean of drugs for several months now and was studying dog care and dog psychology.
Magistrate Theakston said the fact she’d already paid back $830 demonstrated “a good start” as well as an ability to rehabilitate.
Blinksell pleaded guilty to four counts of obtaining property by deception. She was convicted, sentenced to an 18-month good behaviour order on each count and ordered to repay $150 a fortnight in reparations until the total was paid back to her victims.