As the magistrate read out Annabel Walker's sentence for a series of fraud offences in September 2020, the 32-year-old shouted out to her devastated parents, "don't worry, I deserve this."
Speaking to Mamamia's No Filter podcast, a month after being released from eight months behind bars, the NSW woman says she knew she was "gone" when the doors at the back of the Downing Centre Local Court opened as the magistrate delivered her verdict.
"My heart just sank," she told Mia Freedman. "I'd been told before that's where the sheriffs come from to cuff you."
Listen to the full interview on No Filter below. Post continues after podcast.
Until that moment she hadn't properly considered she'd actually go to jail for the series of lies, deception and theft that'd put her in that courtroom. She was confident her letter of apology and prior clean record would be enough to save her from a jail cell. On that Wednesday afternoon, Walker thought she'd be getting an intensive correction order, to be served in the community.
"I just thought surely not. And even the duty solicitor that was on that day had said to me, 'there's no chance they'll send you'," she said.
Walker had represented herself on the day of her sentence. As she told No Filter, she'd been unable to come up with an owed $10,000 for her lawyer the day before, so she entered the courtroom alone.
"The magistrate actually said to me, do you want to go for an adjournment? [But] I'd had enough. I was at my wit's end. Never [have I] had depression in my life, but I was at the point where I was almost suicidal. I just needed it [the court process] to be over."
In handing down an 18 month sentence, with a non-parole period of 12 months, Magistrate Susan McIntyre described Walker's offending as "fundamental and flagrant breaches of trust."
All up, the Bowral local swindled tens of thousands of dollars in goods, cash and services from employers, her boyfriend, her parents, strangers and friends. Once caught, she plead guilty to all charges.
"From the moment I was taken [into custody after being sentenced], my brain just switched over and I went into, 'okay, this is what's happening.' And I just thought, you know what, I have done some terrible things. But it has finally caught up and I deserve to be punished," she said.