A woman who helped dump her friend’s corpse in the wilderness after he died of an overdose in her car lied to the man’s sister, sending a vile text claiming she hadn’t seen him in days.
The tearful family of Blake Riley packed Toowoomba Supreme Court, becoming emotional as they learnt of the disconcerting deceit played out by Mr Riley’s friend, Kelly-Ann May Sinclair.
Mr Riley, 28, was found dead in bushland on the outskirts of Toowoomba in January 2021.
More than two years after the horrific discovery, Sinclair was sentenced to 18 months’ jail but with time served she will be eligible for parole before the end of the year.
In a disturbing twist, the court was told Sinclair texted Mr Riley’s sister in the days after his death, asserting she had not seen him in days.
“Sh-t babe, I know he has been hanging at that gay guy’s house but I did pick him up from near water tower a couple nights ago,” Crown prosecutor Nicole Friedewald read to the court on Wednesday.
“Then he borrowed my car to go get tick … but then the following day I had to pick my car up … but I haven’t seen him since.”
In the text, Sinclair claims she would try to “get a hold of him” or anyone who had seen him.
She ends with the sentence: “I’m back in town this arvo xo.”
At the time she sent the text, Mr Riley’s body was yet to be discovered by two people who would stumble upon his corpse by chance.
Sinclair had pleaded guilty to interfering with a corpse, with prosecutors dropping a charge of manslaughter.
Ms Friedewald told the court that Mr Riley had been taking drugs at Sinclair’s home on the night of January 5, 2021, when he suffered a drug overdose.
Sinclair placed Mr Riley in the back seat of her car and left.
Ms Friedewalde told the court that Sinclair then made a call to her alleged drug supplier, who warned her against taking Mr Riley to hospital.
“(The supplier) was worried Mr Riley might talk,” she said.
Instead, Sinclair picked up the man in another part of town and parked her car at his house – leaving in another vehicle later that night.
Mr Riley was left in the back of her car until the next morning, the court was told.
“It is likely Mr Riley passed away as a result of the drug overdose within tens of minutes from the time he administered the drugs,” Ms Friedewald said.
The next morning, Sinclair told a friend about Mr Riley’s overdose and whispered she had to “drop” his body somewhere.
Ms Friedewald said Sinclair then returned to her car – still containing the deceased Mr Riley – where arrangements were made for her vehicle to be used to dispose of the body.
She said Sinclair “encouraged” another person to dispose of Mr Riley’s body in bushland at Preston Lookout, south of Toowoomba, before leaving in another vehicle.
Her car was later cleaned by another person, the court was told.
“At no time did she contact Mr Riley’s family to advise them of his passing or location, nor did she ever contact authorities,” Ms Friedewald said.
Even in the midst of a police investigation, Sinclair attempted to conceal her involvement in what happened.
The court was told she lied to police about knowing Mr Riley, asking a friend at her house to turn off the man’s phone.
“There had been attempts by the family to contact Mr Riley,” Ms Friedewald said.
Sinclair continued lying to Mr Riley’s sister in a “contrived” text after the woman reached out to her about her brother’s location.
Discussing Mr Riley’s death with another friend, she told her: “We didn’t take him to hospital because if we did, we would all go down for it. It was too far gone. We were in too deep.”
“It’s self-absorption on a disturbing scale,” Supreme Court Justice Peter Callaghan said of Sinclair’s ongoing deception.
The court was told Sinclar had a lengthy criminal history – most of which involved drug offending – and was on bail, probation and a suspended sentence at the time.
Her defence barrister argued she should be given credit for her plea of guilty.
Sinclair’s barrister said her physical involvement was “limited” as she only acted as a party to the offending.
Justice Callaghan jailed Sinclair for 18 months, ordering she be eligible for parole in November.
The ordeal brings some sense of closure for the Riley family, who have waited years to see justice dealt to those involved in the disposal of the body.
The court was told Mr Riley’s mother, Debra, had endured “unbearable” grief over the loss of her son.
Her husband would wake up screaming for his son in the middle of the night because he found it “hard to come to terms” with the death.
“I brought this beautiful black-haired, blue-eyed baby into this world and I wasn‘t allowed to say goodbye,” her victim impact statement read.
“I still find myself looking for him in a crowded place or thinking he is opening the gate when I hear it rattling in the wind.”