IT was a murder plot that involved an ex-partner’s new lover, $300 in cash, a “packet of smokes” and, according to Public Defender Peter Krisenthal, a “very strong element of fantasy”.
Hunterview mother and daughter Leanne and Tiffany Loughrey faced a sentence hearing in Newcastle District Court on Friday after pleading guilty to trying to organise the murder of a woman who was in a relationship with Leanne’s ex-husband.
Leanne, now 48, tried to get two men at two different times to murder her love rival and has pleaded guilty to two counts of solicit to murder.
While Tiffany, now 23, has pleaded guilty to one count of solicit to murder.
The women, who both spent 50 days in custody before being granted Supreme Court bail, face a maximum of 25 years in jail on each count.
Upset at the breakdown of her 22-year marriage to Tiffany’s father, Stephen Loughrey, and certain her ex-husband’s new partner was to blame, Leanne decided the only way to get him back was to take her out.
“We've got a favour to ask,” Tiffany told a man they ran into in a Singleton shopping centre car park on September 26, 2016. “Do you know anyone or would you get rid of someone for 300 bucks and a packet of smokes?”
“Tiffany's father has run off with this lady and we need her killed,” Leanne chimed in.
But Mr Krisenthal, for Tiffany, said the offence was a solicit to murder “in name only”.
“This is not a situation where any rational person would see that this had any reality,” he said. This is an offence which involves a very significant degree of fantasy.”
After hearing evidence from Tiffany’s sister, who said she was “easily led”, a “little bit simple” and completely dependent on her mother at the time of the offence and after handing up a report that he said showed a causal link between Tiffany’s cognitive issues and the offence, Mr Krisenthal made “a bold submission”, asking Judge Dina Yehia to consider sentencing Tiffany to time served.
“Looking at the totality of all of the circumstances, my submission is that you could come to a determination that a sentence of imprisonment of less than three years is appropriate,” Mr Krisenthal said.
“But given what I say are exceptional circumstances and taking into account [Tiffany’s] cognitive issues and the progress she has made since her release from custody, I would submit that you could impose a non-parole period that reflects the very short period she has spent in custody.” And while Tiffany could avoid spending any more time in jail, her mother looks certain to return to custody when Judge Yehia sentences the pair in Sydney Downing Centre District Court on September 3.