Ballina woman who was 'born into a cult' faces court
A WEST Ballina woman who was born into a "cult” has had two convictions annulled after she failed to appear for her first court date.
The 40-year-old, who faced Ballina Local Court by video link from custody last week, had been convicted in her absence of destroying or damaging property in a domestic violence-related incident on August 23 and assaulting and resisting police the following day.
The woman, who became distressed at times during the court appearance, had also been found guilty of failing to appear before the court on August 28.
According to court documents, the accused attended the home of her on-and-off partner at a Ballina caravan park between 5.30 and 6pm on August 23, damaging a caravan window belonging to him.
Defence solicitor William Roberts applied for some of the convictions made in his client's absence to be reversed.
Mr Roberts based his application on his client's disorganised lifestyle.
"She has obviously lost the paperwork which is supported by her disarray of lifestyle,” he said.
"She was hindered from attending court as a result of her lifestyle and it's in the interest of justice that she has the right to defend the charges.”
Mr Roberts tendered to the court documents detailing past diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder and thought disorder.
Police prosecutor Brett Gradisnik opposed the application, saying this disorganisation didn't prevent her from reporting to police as per her bail conditions.
"The interest of justice don't only flow towards the applicant,” he said.
"The victim has a right to the interest of justice as well.”
The court heard on one of the occasions the accused reported to police, she asked the officers to confirm her court date, but they told her they didn't have that information.
Magistrate Karen Stafford agreed to reverse the convictions, noting the woman had a "very traumatic childhood” and was "essentially a child born into a cult” and finding she had been "mistaken or hindered”.
The woman's convictions for destroying or damaging property were annulled and Ms Stafford ordered a brief of evidence to be filed by October 17.
The case will return to court on November 12, when the other charges will be mentioned to fix a date for sentencing.
In light of the successful annulment application, Mr Roberts applied for bail on the woman's behalf.
Mr Gradisnik cited her record, a risk of failing to appear and risk of further offending when he opposed her release.
But Ms Stafford granted bail after she found bail concerns could be mitigated with a range of conditions.