Predators and Friends: The Strange Case of Sherrie Robinson and Tony Dekort
Predators and Friends: The Strange Case of Sherrie Robinson and Tony Dekort
The name of that able-bodied woman who scammed wheelchair-bound Dion Carbery nearly a decade ago escapes me? Dion had spina bifida and hydrocephalus. He knew he was dying. He sold Big Issue magazine in the laneway next to what is now the AngliPrison in Port Adelaide.
Dion’s fully functioning mind inhabited a tiny scrunched up body with baby-sized feet. His new female friend borrowed increasing amounts of money from him that reached perhaps $1000. This was from Dion’s earnings on a good day of $40 from selling the magazines he called “books”.
He was enraged upon realising she had no intention of paying him back. It was not the money that hurt, but that a friend would do that to him. That was the hook. She had befriended him when they both worked at Port Partnerships, a church-based sheltered workshop now known as Wesley Social Enterprises.
That is why Dion rejected my offer to help him get the money repaid. She had intertwined friendship within a predatory relationship. She also threatened him with her male friend if he made trouble, something Dion would not let me do to her.
Soon after, he suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 31. It was a year after being scammed by the woman he believed was his friend.
In early 2017, eight or nine years after Dion’s death, a man at a church soup kitchen blurted out that his uncle was being robbed by a couple named Sherrie Robinson and Tony DeKort.
The man whom I will call “Joshua” showed me blurred photographs he’d taken on his phone of them retreating from his uncle’s house.
From a previous conversation with him, I knew they had enlisted disabled residents of Supported Residential Facilities to scour welfare venues to pick up free clothing and accessories. These were possibly for resale on eBay and in retro stores by Sherrie and Tony or to be sold in bulk to Sunday market stall holders.
But their dealings with Joshua’s uncle, whom I will call “Bernard”, were more sinister. Bernard is in his early sixties and lives in a pleasant strata title unit in a leafy street near Port Adelaide.
Bernard is a small-statured autistic man with sunburnt skin. He is a likeable fellow, but lives in the moment and is easily led astray. He would make an unreliable witness in court.
He drove a car, but now rides a bicycle for everyone’s safety. He works at Wesley Social Enterprises in Alberton, a suburb close to Port Adelaide. This sheltered workshop is for those with various neurological, psychiatric and physical disabilities. Sherrie had worked there and known Dion Carbery.
When Bernard’s mother died she left him her house that was sold to buy his comfortable unit. His brother maintained power-of-attorney over the unit, but not his income and other assets. With minimal housing costs and collecting a government disability pension plus wages from the sheltered workshop, Bernard was flush with cash. Yet, inexplicably, over the past few years, his brother and sister became increasing perplexed that Bernard had not enough money to buy adequate food.
Meanwhile, Bernard’s nephew, Joshua, had noticed strange things happening at three friend’s house in Dudley Street, Semaphore, an Adelaide beach suburb.
One tenant was Andrew Verral, the son of a retired magistrate. Andrew is a large man, a workaholic and accomplished martial artist receiving a Disability Support Pension for bi-polar disorder. He spends much of his income buying huge amounts of computers, guitars and valuable movie star memorabilia. They were crammed high against the walls in his bedroom and in a backyard shed. For years, he claimed that pieces from his collection were disappearing.
The second resident was named Vincent, who died from a brain haemorrhage after falling and hitting his head.
The other resident was Bobby, once a powerful man, but now shrivelled up from a brain tumour and near death.
The three men were sitting outside their house with Joshua who asked Bobby why he kept asking him for cigarettes. Did he not have his own money? Bobby was vague and looked about nervously while a man and woman moved about his house as if it was their own. The woman had taken control of the kitchen on the pretext of making them cups of coffee. The man appeared to be searching the place. Joshua later noticed the woman diving in Bobby’s bedroom.
He asked Bobby what they were doing. Bobby said that the woman was looking for her medication that, strangely, she kept in his room. The couple were Sherrie Robinson and Tony DeKort.
Sherri did not realise that Bernard was Joshua’s uncle and might have thought he was intellectually disabled because she told him she was going to Bernard’s to collect $2000 for a holiday in Bali.
Later, when she realised their relationship, she told Joshua that Bernard constantly bugged her for money. She also primed Joshua with the more sinister idea that Bernard had stolen her prescribed medication then put it into a cup of coffee. She said she’d woken naked in her lounge room after being raped by him. “You don’t mind if I cry on your shoulder, do you?” she asked Joshua.
After a month of self-doubt, I visited Bernard without an appointment. He was tired after finishing work at the sheltered workshop, but spoke to me outside his front door.
He was vague as if not knowing what to say about Sherri until I mentioned money upon which he easily fixated his thoughts. He told me that,
“...actually, she’s been taking money off of me...$3000...I thought I was helping her and she was helping me, and apparently she was actually ripping people off, she ripped off someone else, too...drove down to work with me, [Wesley Social Enterprises], James Newell...she’s after money from other people all the time, what the hell for, she goes to the pokies...”
According to Joshua, Sherrie and Tony picked him up from the Wesley Social Enterprises sheltered workshop or his house then took him to her house for lunch or dinner. They charged him for the meal, the amount of which could be anything because Bernard has little sense of money ― when he shops he puts money on the counter without knowing how much it is. Bernard told me that after the meal, “What happens is she wants me to wash her dishes up.”
He said they arrive at his home at all hours knocking on the door and the windows, but “...usually come sometime in the daytime, she’s got no money and she’s trying to get it out of other people.”
And as Joshua saw Tony and Sherri going through the house in Exeter, they have also searched through Bernard’s rooms on contrived pretexts. Bernard said,
“...This is another thing; this is what pissed me right off. He came, Tony, and he came down here and said, ‘You stole me up $500 off of me.’ Sherrie said, ‘Like I saw you inside his cupboard,’ and he’s [Tony] going through my bedroom looking for $500 and I said, there’s no $500 I took off you, you lying bastard...you get out of here or I’m going to call the cops on you. The cops came and they talked to them...and yesterday they came [Sherri and Tony] and brought me some food.”
Bernard’s elder brother took the intrusive step of installing a surveillance camera inside Bernard’s lounge room, of which Bernard had little understanding. When Joshua went to retrieve a seven-day file, the disk had been wiped and the camera disconnected.
Sherrie also enmeshed herself into Bernard’s life through more subtle means. She wanted the keys to his unit and got them by making an exchange. Bernard recounts:
“And then she gave me the roller door keys to her place. Bloody hell, what do I want that for, so I can get in?...She’s bad, she’s bad. I won’t go there; she won’t come here...I really don’t appreciate what she done.”
Bernard corroborates Joshua’s claim that Sherrie got him to sign a form transferring his government disability pension into an account accessible to her. Bernard said, “She conned me into signing it, that she was going to help me.” When he went to buy a trailer for his bicycle, he discovered his account had been drained. “I’m not very happy with her doing that,” he told me.
By this stage of their relationship, Bernard had been dragged to the Port Adelaide police station three times by Joshua and once by his brother, aunt and cousin. However, each time Bernard refused or was unable to speak coherently against Sherri and Tony. They were his friends.
But it was Sherrie, his so-called friend, who had claimed to Joshua that Bernard had drugged her with her own prescribed medication and then raped her. Joshua later scoffed at the claim. “He’s never had sex in his life.”
But even more sickening is another incident that Bernard recollects, “I come home from work one day...I was tired...she rung me up. She said that she’d come around here, rung up the ambulance. They came and took her up to the hospital...I was having tea at the time and the next thing I had this bloody phone call. I thought, what’s the bloody hell is this, the police at her place. I thought, what the...and they say, ‘Can you come to Sherrie’s place?’”
“I didn’t know what was going on and the next thing, I didn’t know what she was going to do something to herself or what, and they said they’ll wait here till you get here. They said she got some sort of disability or something going on...I don’t know...I thought, what the...I couldn’t understand it. I still don’t know bloody hell how that went on.”
Bernard later told Joshua that the incident took place at Sherrie’s house in Ottoway, a nearby suburb. Sherrie pressured him for money. She had a knife. Joshua says it was Bernard who called the ambulance.
The police later phoned Bernard in the belief that he was Sherrie’s consort, not Tony DeKort. They told him to go to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and later to wait at Sherrie’s Housing Trust unit until she returned. They expected him to watch over her.
Such actions by gambling addicts are not unprecedented. John Andrew Green from Barmera operated a scam out of the Hutt Street Centre for years. He groomed his targets with sad stories and good intentions then begged on his hands and knees and with tears in his eyes for loans to help his children. Each evening after scamming a new gullible victim, he was seen at the Adelaide Casino. The next day, he’d beg for more, demand more. When his creditors finally requested repayment, he responded with incremental threats that led to physical violence. Despite dozens of fraud convictions, he continued unabated.
Similarly, the knife incident changed little in Sherrie Robinson’s compulsion for money. Bernard told me that, “...only yesterday she rocked up. She’s after money and I thought, no, I haven’t, I bought myself some chicken and chips. I hide the money from her now, I hide it. I won’t have any more to do with her...I’m not...I don’t trust her. No one trusts her...I don’t know why the hell she’s doing it.”
Joshua blames Wesley Social Enterprises and himself for Bernard’s predicament. When Bernard’s mother died, he was at a loss and risked harming himself so Joshua introduced him to the sheltered workshop. Bernard’s life got back on an even keel, but he became what Joshua describes as a sitting duck for schemers such as Sherri Robinson and Tony DeKort.
The manager of Wesley Social Enterprises, Tony Heinrich, recently confronted the couple outside the sheltered workshop as they waited for Bernard. Heinrich is believed to have later filed a detailed complaint against them at the Port Adelaide police station.
A paid staff member now stands near the front gate of the workshop when the disabled people finish work at 1:00pm and when Robinson and DeKort are usually waiting out front in their white station wagon.
Meanwhile, Bernard is bereft. His brother now holds power-of-attorney over his income and assets and has restricted Bernard’s access to most of his money. When he wants something, they go shopping together. As significantly, for Bernard, he has lost those he believed to be his good friends. They treated him as someone important, but now are angry with him. And after the hospital incident with Sherri, he has a sense of impending doom. He cries for his lost friends, the friends who robbed him and treated him as a servant. But as time passes, he slowly grasps the realisation that he was cruelly scammed. They were not his friends; they were predators.
(above) Sherri Robinson with a disabled man named Bernard and Tony Dekort. Sherri befriended disabled men then made demands for money using her associate Tony Dekort in a good friend/bad friend routine. Sex was a lure she allegedly used on elderly inexperienced disabled men. When one victim didn’t fall for it, she made up false rumours about him.
(above) Dion Carbery sold Big Issue Magazine in all weather conditions. He loved the job from which he made up to $40 a day. He fumed upon realising that a woman who had borrowed nearly a thousand dollars from him would not pay it back. He was getting around with Sherrie Robinson during this period. She developed friendships with disabled people with the apparent intent to defraud them.
(above) John Andrew Green was an ex-Barmera football club player and gambling addict who got down on his hands and knees and begged for loans to help his children in Darwin. However, his children lived in Marion and he spent the money at the Adelaide Casino. He mixed friendship with treachery so that his victims still called him a friend after realising they’d been defrauded. He was quick with his fists when creditors asked for repayment. He had dozens of convictions for fraud yet operated for years without impediment from the Hutt Street Centre in Adelaide. Circa 2009.
(above) Sherri Robinson returning to the car from autistic man Bernard’s unit. She allegedly used friendly sex to seduce other disabled men for the purpose of extracting money from them. It did not work with elderly Bernard. His nephew later said that Sherri had told him that Bernard had drugged her then raped her. An unlikely story, at best.
(above) Tony DeKort and Sherri Robinson collected an autistic man, Bernard, shown above. They went to Bernard’s house where Sherri checked the mailbox. When they left, Tony stayed behind for a minute. Was he locking up the other man’s unit? Bernard reported that his remote controlled truck and an ornament had disappeared.
(above) Tony DeKort and Sherri Robinson picked up Bernard after work from the Wesley Social Enterprises sheltered workshop. They took him to to Sherri’s house where they immediately enlisted him to help move a fridge. Bernard said they served him meals, but made him pay then told him to wash up the dishes and sweep the floor.
(above) A quality worker at the Wesley Social Enterprises shelter workshop on Port Road, Alberton, near Port Adelaide. Manager Tony Heinrich finally clamped down on predators waiting for the workers to finish for the day. He confronted Sherri Robinson and Tony Dekort then wrote a detailed report on their manipulations of disabled people at the workshop.