A WOMAN who embezzled more than $40,000 from the Bathurst Information and Neighbourhood Centre has been convicted of stealing property as a clerk sentenced to a nine month Intensive Correctional Order after appearing in Bathurst Local Court last week.
Paula Neill, 42, of Landseer Street in Raglan appeared before Magistrate Michael Allen on Monday.
Her solicitor, Evan Dowd, told the court his client had been under emotional stress and her husband had suffered a serious heart condition at the time of the theft.
He said the bills were gathering at home and his client became overwhelmed.
He said when the first amount was taken his client had every intention of paying the money back but things got worse.
He also said when the discrepancy was noticed by her colleagues, his client was immediately upfront and told them "she had done the wrong thing by them".
Mr Dowd told the court it was his intention to ask for a Section 12 suspended sentence, but Mr Allen said a custodial sentence was warranted.
Police facts tendered to the court told how Neill was employed as a book keeper with BINC whose job was to receiving money from government grants into the systems and account and audit the funds.
A number of discrepancies were found in June 2012 and when management questioned Neill about these she admitted "I have done the wrong thing by you guys," she said.
Mr Allen acknowledged there were a number of factors contributing to the theft, Neill was depressed, socially isolated and unable to seek help.
But he said the conduct took place over three years and at the heart of the offence was the significant breech of trust.
He described her conduct as clandestine and deceptive, breaching the trust of her employer.
He said a custodial sentence was warranted.
Given the objective facts and lack of antecedence Mr Allen said nine months was an appropriate sentence.
He told Mr Dowd a wholly suspended sentence was not appropriate saying it was a matter of white collar crime. and an intensive correctional order was the most appropriate way to deal with the matter.
He convicted Neill, sentencing her to a term of imprisonment for nine months to be served as an intensive correctional order beginning on May 27.
He also ordered her to pay $44,864.56 compensation to BINC.