Armed robber tells of love, drugs and prison politics
Janna Sladic, picture here in 2002 when she was playing for the Canberra Capitals basketball team. Photo: Andrew Campbell
The armed robber and former basketballer Janna Sladic says the dream she shared with her ex-lover Matthew Massey, described by a judge as a ''spectacularly unsuccessful criminal'', is over.
Sladic was once a model and promising semi-professional baller who filled reserve roles for the Canberra Capitals.
But she says a car crash, painkillers and a destructive relationship with the notorious prison hardman Massey sent her life off the rails.
Convicted criminal Matthew Massey.
And at Thursday's sentencing hearing Sladic delivered a blunt assessment of Massey's ex-wife, the convicted murderer Rebecca Massey - ''jealous, vindictive and manipulative''.
Sladic, 27, has pleaded guilty to robbing a KFC in Hawker armed with a knife in November last year.
She has maintained another man, Taras Twerd, threatened her into the robbery. He has pleaded not guilty.
Rebecca Massey, convicted for murder. Photo: Graham Tidy
During the robbery Twerd allegedly threatened to stab staff members unless they handed over cash, and the pair allegedly escaped with $300.
Sladic, who has spent 13 months on remand, says she got hooked on heroin after meeting Massey about eight years ago.
She told the ACT Supreme Court she began committing crimes to fund her drug habit.
During their seven-year relationship Massey, who has convictions for crimes ranging from bank robbery and escaping custody to kidnapping, spent more time in jail than out.
Sladic told the court she would regularly visit him when he was behind bars. She said the two shared ''a dream … that he would leave Canberra, that we would be together, that he wouldn't go back to prison''.
Justice Richard Refshauge asked how they intended to realise that dream if they were using heroin, given Massey had ''in one sense been a spectacularly unsuccessful criminal''.
''We were living in a fantasy world to some extent, and we were in denial about how much there was a huge problem in this relationship,'' Sladic replied.
''There's no amount of love, no matter what the dream you have and the man you're with, it's not worth going to prison and losing everything you have.''
Sladic said she was no longer in a relationship with Massey when she robbed the chicken shop.
During her time in custody a feud broke out between Sladic and Rebecca Massey, who is serving 16 years but appealing her murder conviction.
''Up to the point I broke up with Matthew, I didn't have any
problems, and then I think she decided to let her true feelings show,'' Sladic said.
Sladic said the women's section of the Alexander Maconochie Centre descended into ''mayhem'' with prisoners in both camps separated for fear of violence.
''Once mine and Matthew's relationship ended she didn't see any point in being polite to me any more,'' she said. ''I think it's stupid prison politics, to be honest.''
Sladic told the court she had been drug free since her incarceration, and expressed a desire to move to Melbourne in the hopes of avoiding old associates.
''Nothing is worth losing my family and how far I've come in the last 13 months because I decided to go on a stupid childish bender,'' she said.
Justice Refshauge said in all the circumstances it was unlikely Sladic would receive more than an 18-month non-parole period.
He agreed to release her on bail for one week to travel to Melbourne and put ''structures in place'' for her transition into the community.
''I'm giving you the ball, you put it in the hoop,'' the judge said.
Justice Refshauge warned her aggravated robbery was one of the most serious offences under territory law.
Sladic is due back in court on Friday next week.