Social media star’s ‘sugar daddy’ defence
An Instagram influencer who said she had just come from meeting up with her "sugar daddy" when she was pulled over by police in Sydney has been convicted of drug possession.
When police officers searched Kate Szepanowski's car they found thousands of dollars of cash in her handbag, what they suspected to be traces of cocaine in a freezer pouch, Xanax tablets and a number of mobile phones scattered about the vehicle.
Queensland based Szepanowski, 24, who has more than 45,000 followers on Instagram, didn't turn up to the court proceedings at Sydney's Downing Centre last week and was convicted in her absence.
Kate is the sister of Chloe Szepanowski, a beauty and wellness YouTuber who has half a million followers on Instagram
Since her conviction Kate Szepanowski has posted multiple times on her Instagram account. A post uploaded four days after her scheduled court appearance on 12 June depicts her emerging from a swimming pool and is captioned "living my best life". Another post, uploaded on Monday, shows her surrounded by designer shopping bags and states "irrelevant haters are the biggest motivators".
Szepanowski's posts are mostly of herself. Many are of her in locations such as Dubai, Miami Beach or Las Vegas and feature brands including Chanel and Moet champagne. In one post she waxes lyrical about a mid-tier brand of luggage.
In a police statement of facts, seen by news.com.au, officers said they pulled Szepanowski over in the eastern Sydney suburb of Bondi Junction at about 1.20am on Saturday 8 December last year.
The black Mazda was travelling at low speed and was not staying in its lane.
"Police were concerned that the driver may have been under the influence of illicit drugs or intoxicating liquor," the court documents stated.
Once Szepanowski stopped, the officers said they needed to tap on the window several times before the woman wound it down.
"Police could see the see the accused was fiddling around near the centre console and became suspicious she was attempting to conceal something."
Szepanowski told the officers it wasn't her vehicle but a hire car as hers was at the "wreckers". Police claimed she said she had "been with a friend having dinner".
"She appeared anxious. The accused picked up a handbag from the passenger seat. Police could see a wad of cash within the handbag and a large clear releasable bag," court documents said.
"Police immediately became suspicious that the accused was in the area to take part in drug supply."
The officers asked her to leave the car and after "multiple stories" Szepanowski said she had been with her sugar daddy that evening. The $2500 in the bag came from her sugar daddy, she said.
"The accused stated she had evidence of the meet up with the sugar daddy within her mobile phone. Police stated that if she could prove that this did in fact occur then they would allow her to keep the cash.
"The accused was unable to unlock her phone via the thumb print (and) told police she didn't know the code. The accused was given ample opportunities to unlock the mobile phone, failing to do so each time."
The officers then searched the Mazda and found a clear plastic freezer bag which contained a "remnant" of white powder that police suspected to be cocaine.
"Police know it is common practice for those taking part on the drug supply, namely cocaine, to place smaller bags into a large freezer type bag," police said.
Beneath the passenger seat they also found a second mobile phone in a pink case. In Szepanowski's handbag was a Vodafone SIM card pocket and the officers noted both phones were connected to the Vodafone network.
"Police asked the accused to unlock the mobile phone with the pink case. The accused told police that the phone was not hers and that she noticed it under the seats when the car was given to her a number of days ago - she however left it there. The phone was on 37 per cent battery," the facts state.
Two Xanax tablets were also found in the car which Szepanowski said were hers but she had no prescription for the drug.
She was stripsearched in the back of a police van but nothing untoward was found. She was also breath tested and drug tested and those results were negative.
"Police explained the cash would be seized as proceeds of crime as they believed it was earned through the sale of prohibited drugs (as well as) the phones and two Xanax tablets."
Despite her no-show at court on 12 June, Szepanowski was convicted on charges of possess prohibited drug for the Xanax and goods in personal custody suspected being stolen.
In total she was fined $350.