Alleged incest family matriarch bailed before trial

BETTY Colt, the matriarch of a family alleged to have engaged in incest over four generations, has been released on bail ahead of her trial for allegedly concealing the paternity of her children. READ MORE.

Supreme Court Justice Desmond Fagan ordered the release of the 52-year-old mother of 13, known by the pseudonym Betty Colt, saying that so far she has spent 14 months on remand and he could not "justify holding her in prison for what is likely to be longer than her ultimate penalty."

The family property of the Colt family.
The family property of the Colt family.

Betty Colt will face trial in February next year for five counts of perjury for allegedly lying about the paternity of her children.

In his decision to grant her bail Justice Fagan revealed more about the allegations against the eight adults.

"It is alleged over a protracted period of time incestuous relations occurred and children were born of those relationships.

"It is alleged that on a particular rural property where a large number of members of the family resided various adults engaged in encouraging children who were related to each other to engage in sexual acts."

Property on the Colt family farm.
Property on the Colt family farm.

Justice Fagan said the Crown also alleges against some family members that there were "various instances of sexual relations with children to whom they were related" and that they were "encouraging and forcing children to have sexual relations with each other."

The eight Colt family members were arrested in simultaneous raids across NSW, Western Australia and South Australia in April 2018.

It was five years after their alleged incest was first uncovered when 12 children were removed from the Colt's remote property near Yass in the NSW Southern Tablelands by police and welfare workers concerned the minors were being neglected.

Authorities found 38 Colt family members living "off-the-grid" in squalid conditions in a collection of tents, caravans and sheds.

The children were allegedly showing signs of neglect and sexualised behaviour. Some of them had never used a toothbrush or toilet paper and spoke in unintelligible speech.

The Crown will allege genetic testing showed 10 of the children removed from the farm in 2012 had parents who were related.

It is alleged the practice of incest goes as far back as Betty and her six sibling's grandparents.

Betty is facing five counts of perjury for allegedly lying about the paternity of her children.

Her sister Martha Colt is charged with six counts of perjury, while another sister Rhonda and Betty's daughter Raylene Colt were each charged with one count of perjury.

Property on the Colt family farm.
Property on the Colt family farm.

Betty's son Derek Colt is charged with two counts of incest with a person under 16, while Betty's brother Roderick Colt was charged with four counts of sexual intercourse with a person under 10.

The court heard the Crown case against Betty Colt is that she lied while giving evidence at Parramatta Children's Court on August 13 and 14 2014 by saying she was not related to the father of a number of her children.

She claims she has only ever had sexual relations with a man named Phil Walton, who she was not related to.

The Crown allege she lied in court so that children removed by child welfare authorities would be returned to her family's care, exposing them to neglect and sexual abuse.

It will also be alleged that Betty Colt called another family member who is expected to give evidence against her at trial, asking her to withdraw her statement and accusing her of telling lies.

A Colt family member leaves court.
A Colt family member leaves court.

Crown prosecutor Mardi Cartwright opposed granting Betty Colt bail, arguing the New Zealand citizen was a flight risk and would try to contact her co-accused or other family members who will be called to give evidence against her in court.

"The risk of her interference with witness … it's just so great it can't be mitigated by bail conditions."

Justice Fagan said that risk could be addressed by banning her from speaking to any of her co-accused or the witnesses set to give evidence against her at trial.

Property of the Colt family farm.
Property of the Colt family farm.

She was ordered to live with a relative at an address at Bathurst and to report to police daily. She has also been ordered to only have one mobile phone, which she must let police inspect on request.

Another Supreme Court bail application for a co-accused of Betty Colt's will be heard later this week.

The trial is set down for February next year and is expected to go for three months.

Six children, five of whom were members of the family, are expected to be called as witnesses.

A family member identified in court as Charlie Colt.
A family member identified in court as Charlie Colt.

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