A woman who blackmailed a grieving couple over a lost phone containing photos of their dying daughter is appealing against her jail term, saying the sentencing judge was “overwhelmed” by the crime.
- Siti Kamal is appealing against her three-and-a-half-year jail sentence
- She tried to extort money for a lost phone from the parents of a dying child
- Her legal team says the judge made a mistake by saying the crime was “amoral”
Siti Kamal, 26, from Malaysia, has been in protective custody since she was arrested for seeking money from Jay and Deanne Windross while their 11-month-old daughter, Amiyah, was dying in Melbourne’s Monash Children’s Hospital in 2019.
Days earlier, Ms Windross had left her phone in a bathroom at the Chadstone Shopping Centre. It contained thousands of photos of her baby that were not backed-up.
Kamal pretended to have the phone and threatened to delete the images if she did not receive $1,000.
The threats occurred in the hours before Amiyah died, with Mr Windross pleading with the blackmailer over text to give them more time.
“My baby is in her last minutes,” Mr Windross said.
“Can we discuss this tomorrow? She’s about to leave us.”
“How?” Kamal asked.
Decision to appeal a ‘kick in the guts’
Later, Kamal gave the couple, now separated, an ultimatum: “Please transfer me money I will return u the phone, or maybe I just sell it.”
Last year, Kamal was jailed for at least three-and-a-half years.
But on Tuesday she appeared in Victoria’s Court of Appeal where her legal team argued her sentence was “manifestly excessive” and the presiding judge had made a mistake by finding her crime was “amoral”.
The move has devastated Mr Windross, who says it is baffling.
“We basically just thought, ‘Why?'” Mr Windross said.
“You sort of make peace with it but now you’ve just got to basically relive it all again, which is not ideal.”
Prosecutor says sentence for ‘amoral’ crime ‘justified’
In written submissions filed to the court, Kamal’s lawyer, Rahmin de Kretser, said Judge Liz Gaynor “placed too much weight on denunciation and just punishment”.
“The likelihood that the judge was overwhelmed by the nature of the offence, giving too much weight to the aggravating features, and giving too little weight to the facts in mitigation, is irresistible,” he said in court documents.
“Whilst it is true the offending was persistent, the victim was vulnerable and victim impact high, it lacked many other aggravating features,” he said.
“[Kamal] desisted prior to the victim going to police and prior to receiving any money.”
But Crown prosecutor Justin Lewis said Judge Gaynor’s description of the crime as amoral was “entirely justified”.
“The sentence imposed in this case was well within the range of sentences available,” he said.
The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision.