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Sister 'lied' for brother

Newcastle Herald

Friday March 25, 2011

By STEPHEN RYAN

THERE'S sibling rivalry, then there's the Sills family.In the early hours of August 10, 2008, Merrissa Sills emerged from a wall cavity within Toronto RSL Club and proceeded to break in to the club's safe where she stole $134,868.As a former employee, she knew which key opened the safe and which one opened the front door.Waiting for her in a side street was her brother, former police officer Michael Sills, who drove them to his Bateau Bay home.What happened next is in dispute.Merrissa, who is on parole after she was jailed for a minimum of 18 months, told Newcastle District Court yesterday that she received only $20,000 and Michael, 39, kept the rest. Michael, who is in custody, disputes this.The money was never recovered, but Merrissa told the court that Michael whittled his share of more than $100,000 away over 12 months.She claims she lied for him for more than a year before she went to the police.She got a 30 per cent sentence discount for pleading guilty and agreeing to testify against him.Michael previously pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the theft and dealing with the proceeds of crime.Both were gambling addicts, Merrissa told Judge Ralph Coolahan.They both had substantial debts, with Michael leaning on his younger sister for loans, she said.Merrissa said her brother and a friend tried to talk her out of the raid, but she went ahead anyway.She claimed that her brother disposed of her clothes, including a balaclava and gloves, and he took most of the cash and "stashed it".She said she was meant to use her $20,000 cut to repay $12,000 in credit card debt and retrieve pawned jewellery, but the debt was not repaid, she only got some jewellery back and she was declared bankrupt.The case was adjourned to April.

© 2011 Newcastle Herald

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