St Marys Star of the Sea teacher Sarah Heathcote pleads guilty to $20k extortion attempt

A female teacher at one of the Illawara’s most prestigious Catholic high schools has admitted trying to extort $20,000 from her long-term boyfriend under the threat of revealing evidence of their extra-marital affair to his wife.

Sarah Jane Hahn, a St Mary’s Star of the Sea vocational education teacher who is also known as Sarah Heathcote, was had been in an on/off relationship with the man since a chance meeting between the pair at The Harp Hotel in May 2008.

Both Heathcote and the man were married to other people at the time.

Court documents said the relationship continued until March 2009 when all communication ceased between them.

However, the pair rekindled their relationship in October 2015, despite still being married to their respective partners.

The court heard Heathcote purchased several sex toys and lingerie for use during the extra-marital liaisons, with the pair also taking videos and photographs of their intimate times together.

The footage was stored on USB devices to which only the two had access.

Court documents said Heathcote and the victim stopped all communication in December last year to allow them to spend time with their respective families, however the man told police he did not hear from Heathcote again in the new year, which was out of the ordinary.

He said he suspected she may have another boyfriend and did not pursue her.

However, the man received an email from Heathcote in mid-February containing some of the intimate images of the pair, along with a demand from Heathcote that he transfer $20,000 into her bank account to repay her for the sex toys and lingerie she bought during their relationship.

In court: Warilla solicitor Neil McCarthy leaves Wollongong courthouse after entering guilty pleas to two charges on behalf of his client, St Marys Star of the Sea teacher Sarah Heathcote. Picture: Adam McLean

In court: Warilla solicitor Neil McCarthy leaves Wollongong courthouse after entering guilty pleas to two charges on behalf of his client, St Marys Star of the Sea teacher Sarah Heathcote. Picture: Adam McLean

“Heathcote stated if the money wasn’t deposited into her account, she would send the sex toys, lingerie, USB containing photographs and videos of their sexual activites and their email correspondence to [the victim’s] wife at her workplace,” police said.

“Heathcote also stated she would confront [the victim’’ wife at her workplace.”

The victim immediately contacted police.

Meantime, Heathcote told the man he could leave the money in her letterbox. She also had a male friend contact the victim to threaten him.

Heathcote was arrested at the school on February 16 and charged with one count each of demanding with menaces with intent to gain a financial advantage and threatening to distribute intimate images without consent.

Heathcote did not appear in court on Tuesday, however her lawyer, Neil McCarthy, entered guilty pleas on her behalf.

Mr McCarthy told the court Heathcote was in a “delicate” mental state and had been in the psychiatric ward at Wollongong Hospital for the past two weeks. He said she was due to be released that day for an 11am appointment with her therapist.

He sought to have Heathcote’s case transferred to Milton Local Court for sentencing, saying she was in the process of being transferred to the area by her employer to take up another role.

It was not revealed in court whether that will be a teaching job.

Magistrate Cate Follent adjourned the case to May 2 and ordered a background report be prepared ahead of sentencing on that date.