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Woman accused of stealing gifts for homeless kids


A 42-year-old woman will spend Christmas behind bars on remand after allegedly stealing dozens of presents from underneath a church Christmas tree.

Michelle Louise Birrell, from Currimundi, did not apply for bail on Monday morning after 30 presents bound for homeless children went missing from the ATK Anglican Church at Bokarina.

Police weren’t able to recover all of the gifts which they allege were stolen during a break and enter on November 17.

Sunshine Coast Criminal Investigation Branch officer-in-charge Craig Mansfield said members of the public had donated the gifts for homeless children in the region.

“There was also some African jewellery and artefacts that were stolen from there as well,” Detective Senior Sergeant Mansfield said.

“And that’s from a Kenyan missionary.

“They go overseas every year and get all these African artefacts and onsell them to send back to these charities overseas.”

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Det Sen-Sgt Mansfield said the doors of the church were damaged as well as a glass sliding door to an after school care facility.

It’s alleged Ms Birrell did not act alone although no one else had been charged.

An investigation by detectives and scenes of crime officers led to Ms Birrell’s arrest at the weekend.

She was not produced from custody on Monday morning to face seven charges including one count of enter premises and commit indictable offence by break.

Duty lawyer Michael Robinson said Ms Birrell was not making an application for bail.

“Apart from the matters in this court and looking at prosecution material, Ms Birrell has got similar serious matters in a couple of other courts for which she is currently on bail,” he said.

“She is at no risk of doing any unnecessary time in custody.”

The matter was adjourned to January 18 when Ms Birrell is expected to appear by video.


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