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Accused child stealer says she was taking baby to police

A woman accused of child stealing says she was taking a toddler to police after leaving church when she took a car and drove off with the child in the back seat.

Nov 07, 2023, updated Nov 07, 2023

Police allege Brooke Logan Fitzgerald stole a car in Brisbane’s Spring Hill just after midday on Sunday while the owner was standing in the car park of a Saint Paul’s Terrace building.

The 33-year-old car owner tracked the vehicle to Leichhardt Street through her phone where she attempted to restrain the driver, receiving minor injuries in doing so.

Police say members of the public helped detain Fitzgerald, 32, until officers arrived a short time later.

The 18-month-old child was unharmed.

Fitzgerald, of no fixed address, faced a Brisbane court on Monday on one count each of child stealing, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and unlicensed driving.

Asked what she intended to do about the charges, Fitzgerald said she had just left church – which was two doors away – and saw the child in the car.

“So I’d jumped in the car to take it to the police station because who’d leave a kid in the car?” she said.

When Magistrate Sheryl Cornack said she did not have to do that, Fitzgerald replied that somebody else could have taken the toddler.

Fitzgerald was saying she was trying to act protectively to the child and was not intending to deprive the mother of the child permanently, Ms Cornack said.

“She said she was going to drive the car to the police station.”

Witnesses told officers that after Fitzgerald was apprehended she said things like: “As a matter of fact I should have your daughter” and “I’d be a better mum than you”, police prosecutor Eddie Fraser said.

He told the court the inference Ms Cornack presented could have been drawn if Fitzgerald did not have a significant criminal history particularly in South Australia.

Mr Fraser said Fitzgerald’s parole in relation to a five-year jail sentence handed down by a Cairns court had been suspended since her arrest.

Fitzgerald told Ms Cornack she had been doing quite well on parole since her release in 2021.

“I’ve been working, I’ve been reporting, I’ve been doing drug and alcohol courses,” she said.

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Fitzgerald is also facing a charge in the Beenleigh court.

That related to carrying a weapon as she was staying on the street after getting kicked out of her partner’s place, Fitzgerald said.

“Normally I’d stash it … but I got caught by the police.”

The court heard Fitzgerald is managed by a homeless outreach team and is being treated for a psychotic disorder.

Authorities would monitor her as there appeared to have been a deterioration in her mental state, the court heard.

Ms Cornack said it could be seen that Fitzgerald was trying to act protectively towards a child left in the car.

Fitzgerald was remanded in custody to appear by video-link in the same court on November 15.

She is also due to appear in Beenleigh Magistrates Court on November 22.

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