Woman avoids jail on fiddling books of $25k

A WARWICK woman who swindled her employer out of almost $25,000 in a crime that spanned four years has been spared jail time.

Dale Maree Mann yesterday pleaded guilty to one charge of stealing as a servant.

The now 45-year-old committed the fraud through about 90 transactions between June 30, 2006, and June 1, 2010.

She was initially charged with stealing $112,000 from the Warwick business, but through negotiations the amount was reduced to $24,905.

The Warwick District Court yesterday heard the mother-of-two would pocket portions or entire amounts of money paid to the business by clients and would doctor receipts and data entries to hide her theft.

The business was audited several times throughout the four-year period, but because the books technically balanced, the theft went unnoticed for some time.

Her deception came to light when Mann took sick leave and a new employee looked into clients' complaints about receiving arrears notices they said were not justified.

The new employee uncovered discrepancies with the figures on manual receipts and those entered into the business's computer system.

When her employer tried to speak to her about these issues, Mann avoided them and soon submitted her resignation via a third party.

The court heard cash was kept in an area that was accessible by all staff members and some business systems "made it easy" for Mann to take advantage.

Audits conducted on the books in late 2010 showed $144,000 was unaccounted for during the period between 2006 and 2010.

Despite the large discrepancy, Judge Andrews said he was satisfied Mann was responsible for only the $25,000.

The court heard Mann submitted to the temptation to steal the money, as she was enduring marital problems and battling depression.

She was arrested in December 2010, but refused to be interviewed by police and was "initially unco-operative" with detectives.

The court heard Mann was hired by St Vincent de Paul after leaving her former position and had not reoffended since her arrest.

The defendant, who repaid the entire $25,000 yesterday, was sentenced to two years jail, wholly suspended for three years.

Mann showed no emotion as her sentence was read out to the court and it was revealed she would not serve actual time in jail.

Her sister on the other hand erupted into tears and buried her face in her hands.



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