‘Inconceivable’ age mystery for casino cheat
AN AFGHAN refugee who made more than $15,000 by placing chips on the table at the Star Casino was placed on a six month good behaviour bond in a less than 20 minute hearing.
But it took the Southport Magistrates Court two days to determine whether the young woman was an adult or a child when she committed the crime in Broadbeach in November 2018.
After hearing from three doctors, the woman's mother, teacher and the woman, Magistrate Pamela Dowse was unable to definitively determine if the woman was an adult.
Magistrate Dowse determined the matter should be heard in the Southport Magistrates Court rather than the children's court.
"I have to admit it is not possible to establish an age with certainty bearing in mind the weak medical evidence," she said.
"It is inconceivable that a girl who had not reached puberty was able to graduate Year 12, drive a car and go on to tertiary education."
The woman's name and identity has been placed under a suppression order.
Her defence barrister John McInnes had contested the woman was born in 2004 despite all her immigration documents stating she was born in 1996.
He said if born in 2004 it meant she would have graduated high school at 12, started driving at 13 and started tertiary education at 14.
The court was told the woman was born in Afghanistan, at a year which was not known, and her birth records had been destroyed in the war.
Her mother did not know her date of birth. The woman's father recorded her birthdate but he was shot days after she was born.
"(The woman's mother) does not know the date of birth of her children or the date of death of he husband - those things were not important because she was more concerned with moving her family to safer ground," Magistrate Dowse said.
The woman and her mother then fled to Pakistan where they lived in extreme poverty.
At some stage when giving information to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the woman's birth year was recorded as 1996.
In 2012 the pair sort refuge in Australia, where the woman was sent to school.
The court was told that it was not until 2017 that the woman began to suspect the age on her identification documents may be wrong.
Evidence from the doctors was inconclusive as malnutrition and ethnicity could affect the usual markers of age.
After Magistrate Dowse determined the woman's case should be heard in an adult court, the woman pleaded guilty to three counts of fraudulent slight of hand to obtain chips and two counts of attempted fraudulent slight of hands to obtain chips.
Police prosecutor Caitlin Usher said the woman would place chips on the table after the call for "no further bets".
She made more than $15,000 in three days.
She was placed on a $500 good behaviour bond for six months. No conviction was recorded.
Originally published as 'Inconceivable' age mystery for casino cheat