Mother charged over misleading Family Court in custody battle

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The 47-year-old was sentenced today in the District Court after she was charged by the Corruption and Crime Commission with fabricating evidence with intent to mislead a court.

The woman’s 24-year-old daughter and a 37-year-old friend – who was a laboratory assistant at PathWest – were also charged by the CCC with the same offence and sentenced today.

The mother-of-three had to submit hair drug tests as part of a custody battle over her 10-year-old son.

Today, the District Court heard the woman was worried that a test of her own hair might show that she had used marijuana, which she felt might impact on her ability to retain custody of the boy.

As a result, she asked her adult daughter to provide a hair sample and requested that her friend to take it to her workplace at PathWest where an oblivious co-worker was asked to sign the specimen envelope.

The false test wasn sent off but the plan came unstuck when the woman’s former partner discovered PathWest did not carry out drug tests on hair samples and reported the matter.

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Michael Bowden said the offence struck “at the heart of the justice system” and must be regarded as serious.

Judge Bowden accepted that all three women acted out of genuine concern for the 10-year-old boy, were very remorseful and unlikely to offend again, but he said the offence was serious and could have seen them jailed for up to seven years.

The mother was jailed for 12 months.

Judge Bowden sentenced the former PathWest worker to 12 months jail, suspended for 18 months.

He said while her actions were a significant breach of trust by a public officer, the woman had already lost a much-loved job she held for 10 years and was the sole carer of an 11-year-old daughter.

Judge Bowden fined the the 24-year-old daughter $5000 because she initially declined to help her mother and to some extent had felt “compelled” to act even though she knew it was wrong.

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