No rehab for Vic blackmail niece: court

  • 02/19/2019

A former airline cleaner who turned to heroin and ice after losing her job wants to be jailed for blackmailing her vulnerable uncle out of thousands of dollars, a Melbourne court has heard.


Lydia Jasmine Vonja, 37, of Maidstone, repeatedly called her paranoid schizophrenic uncle pretending to be a detective and demanded he pay outstanding parking fines, the court heard.

Prosecutor Patrick O’Halloran said Vonja told her uncle to put amounts ranging from $200 to $4000 in his letter box between December 2 and December 13 last year, and threatened to take away his licence and car if he did not pay up.

He handed over $12,500 before he learnt he was being tricked and refused to pay, at which point Vonja said, “You put the money in the letterbox or I will kill you”, the court heard.

Vonja on Thursday pleaded guilty to making unwarranted demands for cash and two summary offences for breaching bail conditions.

Defence barrister Rebekah Sleeth said Vonja had turned to offending to fund a $200-a-day heroin and ice addiction, and had asked that she not be released on a community corrections order.

“She does not feel quite ready to leave prison and she seeks a straight period of imprisonment,” Ms Sleeth said.

Ms Sleeth said Vonja was scared of returning to the community.

Judge Edward Stuart stood the matter down so Vonja could be assessed for a position at Odyssey House, which would allow her to undergo rehabilitation while performing a community corrections order.

“Once again, that dreaded drug ice comes to the fore,” Judge Stuart said.


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