Rachael Ward, the woman at the centre of Patti Newton’s handbag theft, has been sentenced to 18 months’ jail.
The theft took place last May at a cafe in Chadstone Shopping Centre when Mrs Newton was taking her jewellery to be cleaned or repaired.
County Court judge Damian Murphy said Ward “struck gold” when she discovered the entertainer’s Gucci bag contained about $100,000 in cash and jewellery.
Ward, 34, and an alleged accomplice enacted the theft while Mrs Newton had coffee with her daughter and grandson.
Mrs Newton said theft had caused her distress, particularly over the loss of sentimental items, and made her worried about her family’s safety.
“I feel like I’ve lost a whole lot of my life,” she said at the time. “I’ve had these things in my life for so long, and they were my mother’s and they’re irreplaceable because you can’t replace something that your mum wore, because she’s no longer here.”
“My father’s disc and the rosary beads, they will be nothing to (the thieves) — they will throw them in the bin. I don’t think I will get anything back.”
The court heard Ward, who pleaded guilty to five charges, including theft and handling stolen goods had committed hundreds of offences, mainly thefts, after spending two-thirds of her life in institutions or jail.
She was sentenced to 18 months in jail, and will serve a minimum of 10 months before being eligible for parole.
Source: The Age