A former Dubbo woman who stole thousands of dollars from a woman who was discovered dead in her apartment after six weeks, did it to pay her drug debt.
Rebecca Anne Layton, 45, was at the woman's apartment with her friend who was checking on his neighbours welfare.
Layton's friend discovered his neighbour deceased in the bathroom, "in an advance state of decomposition". Police later confirmed the woman has died from natural causes six weeks prior.
According to police facts, Layton was at the front door of the woman's apartment, when she stole the deceased woman's purse from her handbag.
Police enquiries revealed the victim's bank account had been last accessed by her on October 30, 2019, which they believe was around the time of her death.
However, police discovered the bank card was used at a number of locations in Dubbo from January 12 to 15 in 2020.
At 4pm on January 12, 2020, Layton was recorded on CCTV footage using the victim's card to pay $53 for cigarettes at Coles, before using it to purchase alcohol for $29 at Liquor Land.
At 5.56pm the same day, Layton was recorded using the card to pay for $99 accommodation at the Garden Hotel.
According to police Layton was then recorded at the Garden Hotel making four individual withdrawals of $200, before being declined a fifth time due to credit card limits.
Over the next three days another three withdrawals of $1000 were made using the card at the St George ATM on Macquarie Street.
Layton attempted again to withdraw $1000 from the ATM before it declined due to a freeze placed onto the account.
A warrant was out for Layton's arrest before she was found by police at a motel in Burwood.
During an interview Layton made "full and frank admissions" to police to stealing the wallet from the deceased woman's handbag, which had her bank card along with a hand written pin number.
She admitted she discarded the purse and other contents in a bin at the park across from the Garden Hotel.
She's someone who was addicted to [the drug] ice and looking for an easy way to support that habitDefence lawyer Toshi Weller-Wong
Layton then said over the next few hours she and her resident drug dealer consumed a substantial amount of methamphetamine which was purchased with the money that was withdrawn from the deceased's bank account.
Layton also confessed she gave several hundred dollars to her drug dealer to settle her outstanding drug debts, while the rest of the money was used to pay for cigarettes, alcohol and clothing.
She said she also sent $70 to her brother, along with $50 to another woman.
Layton said she had told the person she was with she had inherited the money from a deceased relative.
In Dubbo Local Court on Wednesday, Layton was sentenced for seven counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, four counts of attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception and one count of stealing property.
Defence lawyer Toshi Weller-Wong said his client had been a heavy drug user for 16 years, and the offence was "spontaneous in nature".
"Ms Layton was at the front door, and did not know the person was deceased ... it's not something that took any planning," he said.
"She's someone who was addicted to [the drug] ice and looking for an easy way to support that habit."
Mr Weller-Wong said Layton had moved to Dubbo at the age of 21 and began working at McDonald's. He said this was when she began using drugs socially on weekends, and eventually found herself doing them on her own.
"She was living paycheck-to-paycheck the only thing she thought about was drugs," he said.
The court heard however, since the offence she had been abstinentfrom drugs for 138 days.
"This is the longest she's been able to remain abstinentin the last 16 years she tells me," Mr Weller-Wong said.
The court heard Layton had also engaged with a merit program and completed two months of rehabilitation, where she gained cooking and cleaning skills and was now enrolled in a nursing course.
Mr Weller-Wong said she had also taken part in the SMART recovery program and narcotics anonymous to help "leaver her future more secure".
Magistrate Theresa Hamilton said the circumstances were "unpleasant" however accepted Layton had taken "significant steps" toward rehabilitation.
She said Layton was not supported by her criminal history, however recognised there had been a gap in offending with her last offence in 2016.
Layton was convicted and sentenced to an 18-month community corrections order.