Charles Phillip Burns and Sharon Marie Willbatt appeared in Brisbane District Court this afternoon. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall
Charles Phillip Burns and Sharon Marie Willbatt appeared in Brisbane District Court this afternoon. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall

Why parents helped daughter in trafficking business

A WOMAN who “recruited” her mother and father to work in her trafficking business has been jailed, while her parents have narrowly avoided being sent to prison.

Nikitta Marie Burns, 29, faced Brisbane District Court on Friday where she pleaded guilty to trafficking “street-level” amounts of marijuana throughout the Moreton Bay region over 11 months.

Her parents, Sharon Marie Willbatt, 50, and Charles Phillip Burns, 61, also appeared in court and pleaded guilty to trafficking dangerous drugs.

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The court was told that the couple, who had been together for 35 years, were motivated to help their daughter after she spent her life savings of $20,000 on a failed business venture.

“It’s obviously not right, it’s illegal, but it comes from a place of love and loyalty of course,” Charles Burns’s barrister Nicholas Brown said.

The court was told the couple were “well regarded” in the community and have been together for 35 years and raised five kids. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall
The court was told the couple were “well regarded” in the community and have been together for 35 years and raised five kids. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall

Prosecutor Alexandra Baker said over seven weeks in 2018, the couple “actively assisted” their daughter by sourcing marijuana and cash for her business.

Both stopped before police raided their daughter’s Bellmere home in April last year and uncovered her trafficking.

The court was told Willbatt had no criminal history and made no profit from the trafficking.

Defence barrister Catherine Cuthbert said Nikitta Burns struggled with alcohol and marijuana throughout her life but had taken “significant steps” towards rehabilitation.

Judge Vicki Loury said it was to her credit that she had stopped using drugs.

She said that it was a “sad situation” to see the couple before the courts because of “the entirely foolish assistance” they gave their daughter.

Judge Loury said the pair had worked hard all their lives to raise five kids and had been held in high regard in the community.

Nikitta Burns was sentenced to three years’ jail and will be released on parole after serving six months.

Willbatt was sentenced to 20 months’ jail, suspended for two years.

Charles Burns was sentenced to two years’ jail, suspended for two years.

Originally published as Why parents helped daughter in trafficking business



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