Thief avoids jail with domestic violence defence

Magistrate Ann McGarvie said she accepted the argument that Julie Carter, 45, of Warrnambool, had committed theft under duress.

Magistrate Ann McGarvie said she accepted the argument that Julie Carter, 45, of Warrnambool, had committed theft under duress.

A WARRNAMBOOL magistrate has decided not to invoke a suspended jail sentence against a Warrnambool woman she yesterday convicted of theft after accepting the thief was a “battered” woman at the time of the offence.

Magistrate Ann McGarvie said she accepted the argument that Julie Carter, 45, of Warrnambool, had committed the offence under duress.

Ms McGarvie fined Carter $800 for stealing three bottles of perfume from a Warrnambool pharmacy on January 7 this year. However, she said she agreed with the argument by Glenys Jardine, representing Carter, the circumstances meant they were a “different type of offences”. 

Ms Jardine told the Warrnambool Magistrates Court yesterday that Carter had committed the offences in the company of her then partner, who had traded two of the stolen bottles of perfume for methamphetamine, known as “ice”, for his personal use.

Carter had been in a violent relationship with the man, who forced her to go into the chemist’s shop, Ms Jardine said.

In one incident, Carter’s partner had punched her in the mouth and threatened her and her son with a knife.

In another incident in February this year, he had stabbed her with a knife, while in April he had punched her in the head, smashing her teeth, and pushed her out of a car.

“He is a very violent man,” Ms Jardine said of Carter’s former partner.

She said Carter had been in a violent marriage for 16 years prior to her immediate past relationship and had suffered domestic violence again with her new partner.

The serious domestic violence Carter suffered amounted to exceptional circumstances that should persuade the court not to invoke the suspended sentence previously imposed on her, Ms Jardine said.

A staff member of Warrnambool’s Emma House, which supports women who have suffered domestic violence, told the court that Carter had shown symptoms of disempowerment, vulnerability and emotional distress at recent appointments.

However, Carter had shown a commitment to breaking the cycle of violence against her, the staff member said.

Ms McGarvie said she was satisfied that sending Carter to jail for the offences was not warranted.

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