DEVASTATED: Wendy O’Donnell of Lismore with her car that was stolen and found burnt out.
DEVASTATED: Wendy O’Donnell of Lismore with her car that was stolen and found burnt out. Jacklyn Wagner

Heartbreak after family car found torched

A LISMORE woman and her family have been left devastated after their car was stolen and found torched.

Wendy O'Donnell, a single mum of four teenage girls and long-time community volunteer, was devastated to find her car had been stolen from outside her Wyrallah Rd home on January 2.

The white 1984 Toyota Corolla had belonged to her grandmother, and when she passed away a year ago, the car was bequeathed to Ms O'Donnell.

"I'm a single mum, money's tight, and this little car was economical - and held huge sentimental value. It's not a high performance car, so to steal it - it's senseless," she said.

As well as full-time work, involvement with Scouts, studying at university, and looking after Japanese exchange students, Ms O'Donnell also gives her time as an SES volunteer, just recently spending five days helping with flood relief.

"I've been slogging my guts out for the community. I always do my bit and help where I can."

Late Sunday night, a month after the theft, police informed Ms O'Donnell they'd found her car - on fire at Wade Park, East Lismore, not far from Ms O'Donnell's home.

While emergency services had managed to put the fire out quickly, most of the car was gutted.

"I can't afford a new car," she said.

She said it's been a hard couple of years for her family, and now this act just made life that much tougher.

"It's been heartbreaking for the kids," she said, as her teenage girls, aged 13, 15, 17 and 18, had been learning, or preparing to learn to drive in it.

And then another blow - apart from third party and property, the car wasn't insured.

"It wasn't worth insuring. It would have cost me $800 a year to receive $700 in insurance - plus the $500 excess on top of that," Ms O'Donnell said. "I just couldn't justify that."



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