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Street Swags founder loses appeal for costs of defending criminal charges

Young Queensland Australian of Year 2010 recipient and founder of the now collapsed charity Street Swags Jean Madden has lost an appeal for the costs of defending criminal charges against her that were subsequently dropped.

Jean Ellen Madden was charged with multiple fraud-related offences in December 2017 over the alleged misappropriation of money from the charity she founded between 2015 and 2016, but they were later dropped due to lack of evidence.

She was charged again months later with four fresh offences and they too were withdrawn by a police prosecutor in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 12 December 2019.

Ms Madden applied to the court for costs of defending the charges – with her counsel tendering relevant material in support of the application. However, on 4 June last year the presiding magistrate determined “there was not jurisdiction to make an order as to costs” and dismissed the application.

She then filed an appeal for costs in the District Court on 5 June last year on the basis that the magistrate erred in ruling that there was no jurisdiction to award costs.

More than 3½ years since being charged, Brisbane District Court Judge Jennifer Rosengren on Thursday ended Ms Madden’s pursuit for vindication by dismissing her costs appeal.

Judge Rosengren, in a 12-page written decision, said: “In short, I concur with the magistrate’s conclusions that an order for costs cannot be made once there has been a formal dismissal of the charge or complaint.

“The timing of the filing for an application and purported adjournment for the making of directions for the determination of the application for costs is irrelevant.

“An application for costs must not only be made but also considered and determined prior to any formal dismissal of the complaint and, subsequent to 12 December 2019 the court did not have jurisdiction to make costs order in favour of (Ms Madden).

 “For (those) reasons, the appeal in dismissed.”

Ms Madden had been accused of ripping off the homeless charity she founded to the tune of almost $150,000 and using the funds for “unauthorised expenses”.

The three-year legal battle left her jobless, and at one point even homeless herself.

Read the decision.

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