Woman jailed for blackmailing grieving parents loses appeal

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The woman who blackmailed a couple while they cradled their dying baby daughter remains in prison and will not get a reduction in jail time after losing an appeal against her sentence.

As Jay and Deanne Windross held 11-month-old Amiyah during her final hours in April 2019, they were bombarded with text messages from Siti Kamal, who demanded $1000 to return a mobile phone containing hundreds of photos of the infant, who was in critical care with a neurological condition.

Siti Kamal.Credit:Facebook

The couple made a public appeal for the return of the phone days earlier when Ms Windross left it in a toilet cubicle at Chadstone shopping centre.

Kamal, a mother of two, sent more than 90 messages in the hours before and after Amiyah’s death, all while the Windrosses believed she had the phone. They later found out she never had it.

Among the messages she sent were threats she would sell the phone or delete the photos. One message read, “please transfer me money I will return u the phone, or maybe I just sell it”.

Then after Amiya’s death, Kamal sent the message: “Please, I’m begging you, I don’t want to sell and erase all of [your] memory, I promise you I am an honest person”.

Amiyah Windross.Credit:Deanne Windross / Facebook

Kamal, 26, was last year jailed for three years and ordered to serve two years before she was eligible for parole, but this month argued in the Court of Appeal her sentence was manifestly excessive and that the judge who jailed her was preoccupied with the moral characteristics of the crime.

County Court judge Liz Gaynor, in sentencing, described Kamal’s offending as “amoral”.

Kamal’s lawyers argued Judge Gaynor’s focus prevented her considering other factors, and called on the appeals court to grant more time for an appeal.

But the Court of Appeal, in dismissing the challenge on Thursday, ruled Kamal’s crime was reprehensible, opportunistic and callous, and found that Judge Gaynor was not distracted and was right to assess the offender’s culpability as high.

“The fact that the judge described the offending as ‘amoral’ does not point to any error,” Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Justice Stephen McLeish wrote.

They found “the sentence in this case, while stern, was within the available range”.

Kamal will be eligible for parole in April and is to be deported to her native Malaysia when released.

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