The son of footy legend Wendell Sailor has narrowly avoided jail for tormenting his girlfriend and defrauding her of $40,000 after he became addicted to alcohol, drugs, and gambling.
Jackson Anthony Watson appeared in Sutherland Local Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to intimidation and making a false document to obtain financial advantage.
The court heard the charges relate to a two-month relationship between the 24-year-old and a woman he met on a dating app.
During their short relationship, the court documents reveal he bullied his girlfriend into handing over $40,000 under false pretences.
According to the agreed facts, Watson told the woman he needed money for work expenses, including for training, tools and uniforms.
He showed her text messages, allegedly from his boss, which claimed he would be reimbursed for the out-of-pocket expenses.
However, when the woman contacted Watson’s boss, the facts state she was shocked to learn Watson had not been employed with him for several months.
Watson, the love child of former Wallabies and Kangaroos representative Wendell Sailor, would stand over his girlfriend and demand to see her bank balance on her phone.
The woman told police she felt threatened and intimidated by Watson, who she claimed has an “extreme temper” and “would get extremely angry very easily”.
According to the agreed facts, he would often pace around the room with objects in his hand.
“These objects included a sharp knife, scissors, glass plates or any other sharp objects he could find,” the court documents state.
The facts reveal the woman became scared and feared for her safety when Watson threatened to “bash” and “kill” a male friend who sent her a text message.
He also threatened her by saying: “I swear by God … If there’s something going on, you’re going to be in trouble; I’m not messing around, you’ll get hurt, I swear to God, don’t f**k with me”.
The court documents reveal another occasion when the woman began crying and shaking after Watson got close to her face and spoke to her in an intimidating manner.
When his girlfriend said she was scared, the facts state the Kirrawee resident responded, “Good, you should be scared.”
In another instance detailed in the court documents, he threw his girlfriend’s phone across the apartment and broke the screen protector after hearing noises outside his apartment.
Magistrate Jillian Kiely noted the serious intimidation offence took place over a two-month period.
“He really subjected the victim in the matter to torment in that period,” she said.
“Much of that was attributable to paranoia as a result of a drug relapse and his use of cocaine, but really very little insight has been shown into his impact on her.”
The magistrate opined the fraud offence had “some level almost of extortion” in Watson’s repeated demands for money and insistence on seeing the victim’s bank account.
“It was really a course of conduct that would have been very distressing,” she said.
Watson appeared polished in a white shirt and tie paired with black pants as he anxiously awaited his sentence on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old was supported by his mother, grandmother and counsellors from the rehabilitation centre he has been attending.
His lawyer Dennis Vo told the court Mr Watson had not taken drugs for seven months and had engaged a psychologist “who believes heavily that Mr Watson is on the way to rehabilitation”.
“It was an ongoing intimidation, however, your honour would accept that drugs may have been a factor in the reasons of delusions or paranoia he experienced at this time,” he said.
Mr Vo said the “rising international and state rugby player” has also engaged with treatment for his mental health, and alcohol and gambling addictions.
“It’s not a situation where he will reoffend again. The underlying issues are being addressed,” he told the court.
Magistrate Kiely agreed the former rising rugby league talent had made “promising” steps towards addressing his alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.
“He’s now on a better trajectory in terms of his mental health … and his ongoing treatment of his addictive personality traits,” she said.
Despite a lack of insight into the impact of his offending on the victim, the magistrate acknowledged Mr Watson had repaid $675 of the “significant” balance owed to the victim.
She sentenced the Kirrawee resident to an 18-month community corrections order for the fraud offence and a year-long intensive corrections order for the intimidation charge.
He will also have to complete 75 hours of community service.
It was the final chapter in a dismal downfall for Watson, who was once a talented rugby league player who represented the Australian Indigenous side during his teens.
He was considered one of the country’s most promising talents when he played in the Cronulla Sharks’ under-16 side alongside some now-household NRL names.
The court heard he is now pursuing a certificate in plumbing, which he is due to finish this year.