FINDING the lifeless body of her mother was the last straw for Jessica Lea Whelan.
The chips were stacked against this high school drop-out from the start.
The former Ipswich resident's father was a career criminal who spent most of his life bouncing from courthouse to prison cell.
With little structure or guidance from positive role models, Whelan started smoking pot at 13.
Soon she was chasing the heroin high and spending small windows of time in prison for a range of crimes including drug possession and assault.
Yet against the odds, Whelan somehow turned her life around.
By age 23 she had completed a few short courses, was managing a Caboolture shop and even bought a house.
Then eight years ago the unthinkable happened - her mother killed herself.
Within days of finding the body, Whelan was driving a heroin-laced syringe back into her veins.
She sold her possessions one by one to feed her habit and eventually slept rough as her insatiable need for drugs cost her home.
On Thursday, Whelan's descent into heroin hell ended as she pleaded guilty to 50 charges - all committed between September 2014 and April this year - before Brisbane Supreme Court Justice John Byrne.
Hiding her face in her heavily tattooed hands, the 31-year-old sobbed quietly as Justice Byrne sentenced her to serve 15 months of a six-year jail sentence.
Her catalogue of crime included smuggling a drug - worth more than $3000 on the prison black market - into the Wacol Correction Centre; and trying to hide a commercial quantity of methamphetamine and drug utensils in a chair while police interviewed her at a police station.
Her other crimes included torching a stolen rental car, driving off without paying for petrol multiple times, using counterfeit money to buy cigarettes, possessing $1750 in drug-sale cash, multiple traffic offences and stealing goods worth about $20,000.
Justice Byrne said he was surprised an earlier three-month jail sentence did not deter the woman from committing further crimes.
"People should be able to go about their business without drug addicts stealing from them," he said.
Justice Byrne took into account time served and her guilty pleas when ordering she be eligible for parole in March, 2017.
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- APN NEWSDESK