Charges against a leader of a youth charity in Karratha were dropped just before the case went to trial.
- Sandra Spadanuda has been accused of referring clients to an unapproved project in which she had a financial interest
- The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions confirmed that it had recently dropped charges against Ms Spadanuda
- Ms Spadanuda’s partner has welcomed the decision but says the past few years have been ‘heartbreaking’
Blue Beanie Projects co-founder Sandra Spadanuda was indicted in 2019 over allegations that she referred juvenile justice clients to an unapproved project in which she had a financial interest.
Ms Spadanuda was due to stand trial this week, but the Western Australia Director of Public Prosecutions office confirmed the state filed a notice of discontinuance of all charges in mid-April, which was accepted by the court .
The end of two and a half years of “agony”
“The charges were dropped on the grounds that, given the prospect of conviction, there was no public interest in prosecuting,” a spokesperson said.
Ms Spadanuda’s partner and Blue Beanie Projects co-founder David Heathwood said the decision had stirred mixed emotions after two and a half “agonizing” years.
“The sadness, the frustration, obviously the happiness also to see that they finally decided to let it go,” he said.
He said the process had been emotionally and financially difficult.
“We are still processing all the emotions that we have felt,” Mr Heathwood said.
He said he and Ms Spadanuda had to sell their business and take out loans to cover legal costs.
Ms. Spadanuda was named Karratha Citizen of the Year in 2019 for her work supporting young people in the community and worked as a youth justice officer.
The Blue Beanie Project was set up by Ms. Spadanuda and Mr. Heathwood to improve the social and emotional well-being of young people and reduce suicide rates in the Australian region.
“Unable to fully serve the young people in the community as an organisation, these young people have missed out on that service and areas of their lives where we could have helped them have been let down,” Mr Heathwood said.
“When allegations like this, which are quite serious, have been made, it’s very difficult to go back on that.”
He said his partner had worked for young people for 20 years.
“Allegations like this really destroyed everything she worked for,” he said.
“It’s very hard to go back on that when there’s a question mark over your head and it can be the same for an organization.”