The Age

Hoax led to baby theft

The Age (Melbourne)
Jun 06 2000 10:38:08

A woman drugged and tried to kill a new mother so she could steal her eight-day-old baby and call it her own, a Supreme Court jury was told yesterday.

Julie Kay McKinley, 36, tricked her way into the Doncaster home of Nicole Woods by posing as a community services worker, gave her sleeping tablets and left her to burn to death in the house after taking her daughter, Allie Jane, prosecutor Geoff Horgan said in his opening address.

"For the next day, she (Ms McKinley) pretended it was her baby to whom she had just given birth," he said.

He said Ms McKinley, a mother at 13 and 18 who was unable to carry a pregnancy after her second child was born, chose her victims from a newspaper birth notice. The Woods' birth notice on February 8 last year said: "Nicole and Stephen are proud to announce the safe arrival of their precious daughter Allie Jane."

Mr Horgan said Ms McKinley created an elaborate hoax that she was pregnant and due to give birth in late January or early February last year.

He said she contacted Mrs Woods at the hospital and at home and arranged to visit her on February 13. On that day she gave Mrs Woods sleeping tablets, pretending they were part of natural therapy. She is alleged to have left her sleeping on a couch while placing part of the doona covering her over an aroma-therapy oil burner so it would catch fire.

Mr Horgan said Mrs Woods was woken by the heat from the burning doona. He said she went to the nursery and realised her baby had been stolen.

Ms McKinley, of Honour Avenue, Werribee, has pleaded guilty to one count of child-stealing and not guilty to charges of attempted murder, arson and aggravated burglary.

Mr Horgan said Ms McKinley had set fire to the Woods' house to make it appear that the baby's remains were consumed without a trace in the fire. He said the fire was also set so Mrs Woods would die.

He said Ms McKinley had padded out her clothing during the pretend pregnancy and enlisted young pregnant women to have tests under her name.

The trial before Justice John Coldrey continues.

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