About a week after Arcadia Thiessen had been charged with the fraud offence she attended the office of her solicitor, Siobhan Blanco, and discussed her case and her situation. Blanco told Arcadia she had been in contact with the police again and had received further information about the evidence the Crown proposed to lead against Arcadia.
Blanco told Arcadia, “The police have obtained closed circuit television from the hotels you were in on your relevant work trips. That video evidence was of you and Garlick Duckworth together in the foyer and / or the restaurant and / or entering your hotel room of those hotels. That evidence coincides with the room service bills the police have collected in respect of your hotel attendance.”
“In addition, on two (2) separate occasions Duckworth was also seen with another woman at a hotel at which he stayed with you. The Crown propose to lead that evidence against Duckworth only.”
“In short the case against you, Arcadia, is that there were eight (8) relevant episodes over two (2) years (which is roughly one (1) every three (3) months). It involves $800.00 for meals made up of $50 spent by you on your meal and also $50 spent on the meal of Duckworth for each of the relevant eight (8) separate episodes you two were together.
“The Crown have calculated your accommodation at an average of $220.00 per night per hotel stay and over the eight (8) relevant episodes, it totals $1,760.”
“An expensive outcome for you for what seems to amount to $2,560. Of course that does not include the airfares your work paid to and from Sydney. They are not part of the Crown case.”
“Your offending is said to be aggravated because the aforementioned work resources of your employer were spent on your private life and divorce, which you planned with Duckworth over the course of your relationship.”
“The Crown case against Duckworth will be that he dishonestly gained the benefit of accommodation and food you provided via manipulating your work perks.”
Arcadia took a little time to reply to Blanco, “None of that sounds very good for me.”
Blanco: “That is an accurate assessment, Arcadia. The Crown case is strong and none of it speaks well of you. Knowing what I know about you, I see little prospect of you successfully defending the charge.”
Arcadia: “What does that mean for me?”
Blanco: “Of course you have the right to go to trial on that charge and put the Crown to proof. However if you are convicted after a trial, you will have lost your opportunity to demonstrate cooperation, remorse and contrition. That will mean you lose any opportunity to have your sentence discounted for those considerations. Alternatively if you were to plead guilty to the charge, it could be said to the court that your plea of guilty at an early stage demonstrated cooperation, remorse and contrition on your part and saved the Crown the expense of having to prove the case against you. Your sentence could be discounted accordingly and that may mean the difference of you staying out of jail. The Crown will say this is an offence which was reasonably well planned and took place over the space of two (2) years, thereby demonstrating significant dishonesty and deception on your part.”
Once again Arcadia appeared uncomfortable with what she was hearing. “It does not seem like I have too many choices. If I am going to be convicted of this offence, I do not do myself any favours by going to trial, because I lose any discount on sentence I may receive for pleading guilty at an early stage.”
Blanco: “That is my assessment of your situation, Arcadia, uncomfortable though it may be to hear. If you were minded to plead guilty to the charge, I recommend we obtain a psychological report on you to provide to the Judge and the Crown at your sentence hearing. You may want to take a little time think about what you want to do in relation to the charge. I have not got all the material from the Crown as yet, so I am not in a position to finalise your instructions in that regard.”
Arcadia: “I need some time to think about what I want to do and what it all means.”
Blanco: “We will leave it there for today and perhaps get together again next week and discuss the case further.”
Arcadia: “Yes. I like that proposal.”
Arcadia then left the office of Blanco and went home.
Siobhan Blanco Receives Material From The Crown
About a week later Blanco received the material against Arcadia from the Crown. Blanco skimmed through the witness statements. No surprises appeared immediately to her. She then watched the video evidence of Arcadia and Garlick Duckworth together in the foyer, the restaurant and entering her hotel room of the subject hotels. On each occasion Arcadia was clearly identifiable and she and Duckworth looked like they were a couple when they were together.
Blanco then read the witness statements more thoroughly. They confirmed what had already been told to Blanco was the Crown case and there seemed little room for Arcadia to successfully defend the fraud charge.
When Blanco was finished familiarising herself with the Crown case she telephoned Arcadia and told her the evidence had arrived from the Crown. They made an appointment for Arcadia to attend the office of Blanco at 10:00 am the following day.
Arcadia Meets Blanco To Prepare For Court
Arcadia arrived at the office of Blanco shortly before 10:00 am and they started work on the defence of Arcadia almost immediately.
Blanco told Arcadia, “I have read all of the evidence against you and it does not say anything different to what I had been previously been lead to believe. Before I get into the specifics of the statements, I will show you the video evidence the Crown intends to lead against you. It does not look good for you.”
Blanco then played the video evidence on her computer and Arcadia could see for herself that she was clearly identifiable with Duckworth in the foyer, the restaurant and entering her hotel room of the subject hotels, as the Crown alleged.
Arcadia said to Blanco, “I really do not have any choice but to plead guilty. There seems little point in going to trial.”
Blanco: “The evidence contained in the statements and the room service bills does not get any better for you. The Crown case seems to be compelling.”
Arcadia: “How much of a mess am I in?”
Blanco: “With an early plea of guilty and reasonable to good psychological report, I am confident you can stay out of jail.”
Clearly worried about her situation, Arcadia said, “I will plead guilty to the fraud offence and see a psychologist, so you can get a report on me for the sentence hearing. I do not want to go to jail.”
Blanco: “I will ultimately get signed instructions from you about the plea of guilty and also an authority from you about seeing a psychologist for the purposes of a report for the sentence hearing. I will also read through all the witness statements with you and ask you to comment upon them where relevant, so you are aware of all the evidence against you. The process will also enable you to provide any relevant explanation as to your behaviour and motivation.”
It took Blanco just over an hour to finalise the instructions of Arcadia and get the relevant authority signed. After that paperwork had been completed there was discussion about the Court case itself.
Blanco knew from all of her dealings with Arcadia that she was infatuated with Duckworth, that much of her behaviour was to ingratiate herself with him and be with him. Blanco could also see that Duckworth was a vain, self-obsessed man, who used people for whatever he could get out of them and that he had little concern for anyone but himself.
Blanco: “Shortly I will write to the Crown and tell them that you will plead guilty to the fraud offence, with little challenge to the facts the Crown have presented. Your plea of guilty will in essence be on the basis that you were infatuated with Duckworth and much of your behaviour was to ingratiate yourself with him and be with him. Uncomfortable though it may be for you to hear such a description, it seems to be accurate, based on what I have observed of you. Unless you tell me otherwise, that is what I propose to do.”
Arcadia took a little time to reply to Blanco, “Your assessment is accurate.”
Blanco also said she would brief a female barrister she knew from University to appear for Arcadia at the sentence hearing. Arcadia did not argue with the suggestion.
Shortly thereafter the meeting between Arcadia and Blanco ended and Arcadia went home.
Correspondence with The Crown and The Psychologist
Blanco promptly drafted a letter to the psychologist requesting a report on Arcadia for the sentence hearing and also a letter to the Crown informing it of the proposed plea of guilty of Arcadia.
A few days later Blanco received a letter from the Crown indicating it was happy with the basis upon which the plea of guilty of Arcadia was offered. The Crown also confirmed that Duckworth intended to plead not guilty to the offence with which he was charged and go to trial. The Crown said Arcadia would be arraigned at the start of the Duckworth trial and any sentence hearing would take place at the end of that trial.
Blanco then wrote to Arcadia and told her of the news in respect of both herself and Duckworth. Blanco also said Arcadia would have a conference with the barrister appearing for her the day before she was being sentenced.
When the psychological report on Arcadia arrived at her office, Blanco was not surprised to read that the psychologist found some evidence of Borderline Personality Disorder in Arcadia. Blanco was equally unsurprised to read that Arcadia starstruck by Garlick Duckworth. The recommendation of the report writer was that with some treatment and the end of the relationship with Duckworth, the likelihood of Arcadia repeating this offending behaviour in the future was very small.
Conference with Barrister, Solicitor and Arcadia
Arcadia was nervous when she attended the Chambers of the barrister for the conference about the sentence hearing. The presence of Siobhan Blanco calmed her nerves somewhat. Whilst nothing went wrong during the conference, it was clear to a more experienced observer that Blanco knew more about the matter than did the barrister.
It was explained to Arcadia that the diagnosis by the psychologist of there being some evidence of Borderline Personality Disorder in Arcadia was not something that was expected to have a detrimental impact on sentence Arcadia received for her offending behaviour. The plan was to ask for the Court to make a probation order in respect of Arcadia and also that she do some unpaid community service work. It was also acknowledged that restitution may be sought by the Crown for the amount said to have been wrongly spent in the offending behaviour. It was all the proposed to ask that the Court not record a conviction against Arcadia. However it was acknowledged that that request may be difficult to achieve in the circumstances and that keeping Arcadia out of jail was the main priority.
Arcadia seemed happy enough with what she heard at the conference and she went home without asking many questions of either the barrister or Blanco.
Trial day arrived and there was a degree of excitement around the Court. The case had attracted media interest and media were present for the trial. Arcadia confronted that reality when she arrived at court with Blanco and the barrister. The three (3) of them proceeded directly to the court room allocated to hear the trial.
When she arrived at the court room she saw Duckworth for the first time in many months. He was accompanied by his solicitor and barrister.
Stiles Parsons, Bonham Trudeaux and Marcellus Breadfern became aware of the trial by virtue of the media attention and the three (3) of them decided to attend the trial together. However none of them spoke to either Arcadia or Duckworth. Nor did they speak to any of the lawyers or the media.
As expected once the trial started Arcadia was arraigned and pleaded guilty to the fraud charge. She was then remanded for sentence to the end of the trial and was granted bail on the same terms as she had previously.
Parsons, Trudeaux and Breadfern were somewhat surprised that the trial they would now watch was that of Duckworth alone and not Arcadia. As Duckworth said he was not guilty, all the available evidence was called and it was quite an educational experience for the three (3) male friends of Arcadia. They learned more about her during that trial than they had expected.
During the trial Bonham Trudeaux commented about Duckworth: “Arcadia was going to leave her husband for Duckworth, yet he was clearly just using her for what she could provide for him.”
Marcellus Breadfern added, “Seems he had the same attitude to the other woman with whom he spent time at the hotel.”
During the breaks in the trial the three (3) men commented to each other how deceptive Arcadia was to them and how Duckworth was clearly a complete jerk, to put it mildly. The video evidence was damning for Duckworth, they thought. Especially of the second woman he accompanied to the hotel. It did not surprise Parsons, Trudeaux and Breadfern when the jury returned with a guilty verdict in respect of Duckworth.
The three (3) men were also very interested in the basis upon which Arcadia was sentenced for her offending.
Stiles Parsons said about the sentence imposed upon Arcadia, “A better qualified barrister or advocate would have got two (2) years probation and 180 hours community service for Arcadia, in addition to the restitution she has to pay, instead of the three (3) years probation and 240 hours community service the Judge imposed. Arcadia may have even escaped without a conviction”
Marcellus Breadfern said, “Whilst I agree with you Stiles, I am not entirely unhappy with that outcome. Arcadia has betrayed all three (3) of us and plenty of others too, it seems. There is a degree of poetic justice in that sentence.”
Bonham Trudeaux said, “I tend to agree with Marcellus.”
Children of Arcadia Hear The News
The media interest in the case of Arcadia extended to Cairns, North Queensland. Before Tabernacle Calderone even knew the news report of the trial of Arcadia and Duckworth was on the nightly television news broadcast, both their children had seen a detailed news report of the trial. The children learned about the infidelity and dishonesty of Arcadia in a way Calderone would have preferred to avoid.