A mother accused of stealing her two children in Townsville four years ago will have to wear a tracking device as part of her bail conditions.
The 45-year-old was granted bail in the Supreme Court in Brisbane today.
The mother allegedly took the two 11-year-old sisters from outside their Townsville school in 2014, when they were aged seven, after their parents’ marriage failed.
She applied to have her case heard in the Supreme Court after her bail was previously rejected in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
The mother was arrested in early May in Taree on the New South Wales mid-north coast and was extradited to Queensland, where she was formally charged with two counts of child stealing.
Justice Peter Davis gave her 16 strict conditions, including a temporary ban on seeing her children subject to any further court order.
The woman, who cannot named for legal reasons, will live with her parents in Townsville, despite police suspicions they helped her carry out the offence.
Justice Peter Davis said the most visible risk of granting the mother bail was the possibility of her taking the children again.
“She’s shown an ability to go off the grid for four years, which is very worrying,” Justice Davis said.
“But I’m not sure she’d be motivated to do that if she didn’t have the children.”
He also asked the woman’s lawyer, Tony Kimmins, to address her living situation.
“There’s a real concern that the parents were somehow implicated in the child stealing,” Justice Davies said.
“They expressed to police that they thought she was doing the right thing in taking the children.”
Mr Kimmins said the parents were putting up a $50,000 surety.
“All of them realise as a result of what did occur is that she has lost the children effectively at this stage,” Mr Kimmins said.
Evaded police for four years
The prosecution was particularly concerned with the length of time the mother was able to evade police.
“That’s four years of hiding and she is quite good at it,” Matt Hynes said.
But, he agreed the fact the children were not living in Townsville would reduce the risk of her reoffending.
Ultimately Justice Davis was satisfied the mother was not a serious flight risk.
Outside court the woman’s lawyer, Phil Rennick, read a statement asking for people to stop their social media attacks on her and the children’s father, saying the hatred and vindictiveness was not helpful to the daughters.
“The only people who know the truth about what they have been through are the girls themselves,” the statement read.
“It is their story to tell when they are old enough to be allowed to… and then only if they wish to do so.”
The daughters have been returned to their father in south-east Queensland.
The matter will proceed in the Townsville Magistrates Court on a date later this month.