The mother of a boy killed alongside three other teenagers in a Townsville car crash has been sentenced for misusing donations
The mother of a boy killed alongside three other teenagers in a Townsville car crash has been sentenced for misusing donations for her son’s funeral and making false applications for financial assistance.
- Lesley-Lee Hill has been sentenced and released after misusing funeral donations for her son
- The money was raised through a GoFundMe page after her son, 13, died in a car crash
- Hill pleaded guilty to all charges and served 153 days in pre-sentence custody
Lucius Baira-Hill, 13, Aaliyah Tepaa-Brown, 17, Rayveena Coolwell, 15, and Cayenne Nona, 14, died when the stolen car they were travelling in clipped a roundabout, overturned and hit a traffic light pole in Garbutt on June 7, 2020.
Lucius’ mother Lesley-Lee Hill, 29, pleaded guilty to numerous charges including fraud and forgery.
In sentencing today, Magistrate Cathy Wadley said about 140 people had made donations via GoFundMe for the 13-year-old’s funeral, but Hill instead spent the money on her ice addiction.
“Your partner at the time set up the account indicating that money was needed to pay for your son’s funeral costs,” Magistrate Wadley said.
“Members of the public generously donated money to assist you, $6,665 was raised … you received $3,656.
Ezekiel Baira, Lucius’ father, has also been charged with fraud over allegations he misused donations.
Impersonated a child safety officer
The court heard that Hill, a mother of four, made requests for urgent Centrelink payments, claiming she had children in her care when she didn’t.
Hill’s three remaining children are in the custody of a relative.
Magistrate Wadley said Hill provided false information and forged letters for Commonwealth disaster assistance, rent assistance, Newstart payments, and family tax benefits.
She detailed how Hill forged a letter from a medical centre to falsely declare that she was pregnant, and on another occasion impersonated a child safety officer.
In sentencing she said Hill’s offending was “calculated and persistent”.
Hill was sentenced to six months imprisonment, to be wholly suspended for 15 months.
“If there is re-offending, you’re at risk of returning to court and serving a six-month sentence,” Magistrate Wadley said.
In sentencing, Magistrate Wadley took into account the 153 days Hill had served in pre-sentence custody.
Hill was also ordered to repay more than $7,000 in relation to false claims for financial assistance.
Tears in court
Hill cried as Magistrate Wadley read the sentence and said “thank you”.
Despite protests from lawyers representing Hill, Magistrate Cathy Wadley also ordered that she repay $3,656 in donations from the GoFundMe page.
“In my view it is appropriate to make an order that you pay that compensation,” she said. “Generous members of the community were prepared to assist you.”
Hill was ordered to be released from custody on Wednesday.