Rebecca Leagh Girdler leaves Gladstone Courthouse after pleading guilty to her offending.
Rebecca Leagh Girdler leaves Gladstone Courthouse after pleading guilty to her offending.

Armed robbery getaway driver to spend no time behind bars

A Gladstone mum of five who was the getaway driver in an armed robbery will spend no time behind bars, as she was released on parole after being sentence in Gladstone District Court on Tuesday.

Rebecca Leagh Girdler pleaded guilty to armed robbery in company, and attempted robbery in the night, with violence in company.

On March 9, Girdler, 39 at the time, in the company of Andrew Lydon Fowler – who was sentenced in the Gladstone District Court last year – drove to a Toolooa address where Fowler entered the victim’s home and threatened the victim if he did not come with them.

Fowler entered the car in the passenger seat, and the victim in the back, and Fowler told Girdler to drive to a nearby IGA which she complied with.

Fowler took the man’s bank card and PIN number and told Girdler to take any money out at an ATM. She withdrew $80, returned to the car and gave it back to Fowler.

Girdler drove back to the victim’s home where Fowler pulled out a tomahawk and flick knife and threatened to chop the victim into pieces.

Fowler proceeded to take a TV from the victim. On March 19, at 1.50am, another $270 was withdrawn from the bank account, either by Fowler or Girdler.

Ten minutes later Girdler once again drove Fowler to the house where he attempted to enter armed with a tomahawk and flick knife threatening to cut the victim into pieces.

The victim locked the doors and called emergency services before Fowler got back into the car and Girdler drove off. Girdler and Fowler were intercepted about 10 minutes later and Girdler declined to be interviewed.

Crown Prosecutor Kate Millbourne told the court despite any lack of awareness Girdler had at the outset, it would have become apparent what she was involved in when Fowler demanded the handing over of the wallet.

“She did not make any attempt to withdraw,” Ms Millbourne said.

She said it was accepted that Fowler was the principal offender and played a much more significant role.

Defence barrister Maree Willey told the court Girdler had no prior knowledge of the co-offender’s intentions and she was not part of any prior planning.

She asked the court to consider Girdler did not join in on any threats, did not make any threats herself and her involvement was limited to stealing.

“My client is a party to offending by virtue of driving to and from,” Ms Willey said.

Ms Willey tended a psychologist report which outlined a diagnosis of PTSD and a history of drug use.

She said her client was taking steps for rehabilitation and looking after her mental health.

Ms Willey said Girdler was hopeful to eventually start a business selling hand made clothing she made with jewellery her daughter made.

Judge Craig Chowdhury described the offences as “extremely serious”.

“This is the sort of stuff you might see on American television of gang land activities,” Judge Chowdhury said.

Judge Chowdhury said ordinarily Girdler would be made to serve jail time, however he was persuaded it was in hers and the community’s best interest she received immediate parole.

Girdler was sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment with immediate parole.

Convictions were recorded.