Accused child stealer Samantha Azzopardi smirks in court

A notorious alleged fake au pair accused of stealing two children in Bendigo last year will next face court in March.

Samantha Azzopardi appeared before the Bendigo Magistrates Court on Thursday morning via video from jail.

The 31-year-old was arrested in the cosmetics section of the Myer department store in Bendigo at 1.30pm on November 1 after she was found with a 10-month-old and a four-year-old girl.

Bendigo Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team detectives charged Ms Azzopardi with two counts of child stealing and stating a false name. The girls were returned to their parents unharmed.

Police later filed more than 50 charges against Ms Azzopardi, including an additional charge of stealing a child under 16 on December 8 last year and also on June 10.

Ms Azzopardi is also alleged to have made false reports to police about "child welfare concerns and physical assaults" between July 9 and November 1.

She was charged with 26 counts of obtaining property by deception, where police allege she called herself "Harper Hernandez" and received regular weekly payments of $250.

Ms Azzopardi also allegedly pretended to be a nurse called Sakah and stole a school uniform after claiming that a patient needed it for a performance.

She allegedly forged documents so she could be hired as an au pair, and has been charged with handling stolen goods after she was allegedly found with a passport and driver’s licence in July that had been stolen from a Brighton East woman last year.

Ms Azzopardi was expected to appear in court on November 4 and 5 last year but the court was told at the time she was in hospital under police guard after undergoing an MRI scan.

On Thursday, she appeared via video link wearing blue tracksuit pants and a white T-shirt with her hair in a ponytail.

She covered most of her face with her hands throughout the short appearance, looking to the side of the room or to the ground and obscuring her face from the camera.

During a brief discussion about the release of a recent photo of Azzopardi, the accused shook her head and smirked.

No application for bail was made.

The matter will return to court on March 10 for a contest mention.



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