KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian woman has been charged in Melbourne with blackmailing grieving parents over a missing handphone which contained irreplaceable photos of their dying 11-month-old daughter.
Siti Nurhidayah Kamal, a 24-year-old mother of two whose children are still in Malaysia, had allegedly demanded A$1,000 (RM2,915) from Jay and Dee Windross in exchange for the phone.
Australia’s The Age newspaper reported that the Windrosses had launched a public appeal last week for the return of Dee’s phone which they said had been snatched in a toilet at Chadstone Shopping Centre.
The paper said the parents had begged for the phone to be returned, no questions asked, as it contained priceless memories of their terminally ill daughter, Amiyah.
It said Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, even joined in the appeal, saying that he could not imagine what the Windrosses were going through.
As the Windrosses were saying their final goodbyes to Amiyah, Jay received a text message from someone claiming to have the missing phone.
“This text message described serious remorse for picking up the phone and not returning it sooner.
“However, their condition was, they wanted A$1000 to be deposited into their account for the return of the phone,” Jay had written on Facebook.
The couple later found out it was a hoax, The Age said, adding that Amiyah died in the early hours of Wednesday morning at Monash Children’s Hospital from an undiagnosed neurological condition she had battled since she was born.
At the Ringwood magistrates court on Monday, Siti Nurhidayah was charged with blackmail and Jay and Dee were there “staring down” their accused blackmailer, Australian news channel 9News reported.
“The hours that we spent holding our daughter, this woman was sitting in her own house demanding money from us,” 9News quoted Dee as saying.
“It’s despicable, it’s disgusting. Why would anyone do that?
“She knew the position we were in. You could tell by the messages.”
Police, the channel reported, had tracked Siti Nurhidayah down from bank details she provided the Windrosses.
9News reported her as crying in the dock as her husband took the stand begging for bail.
“I just want to say sorry because I didn’t know my wife did that. I really don’t have any idea about that,” he told 9News outside court.
““We don’t have the phone. Maybe she just used that for money. That’s it. I am still sorry.”
The report stated that the court was told Siti Nurhidayah and her husband, both of whom work as UberEats delivery cyclists, had moved to Melbourne in September last year, leaving their two young children behind in search of a better life.
“She has two children that are alive, I don’t have my baby anymore,” Dee was quoted as saying by 9News.