Prosecutors demand jail time for thief

Prosecutors asked for a woman who admitted the theft of more than $110,000 from her employers to be jailed for a year.

Deidre Woolgar, 46, pleaded guilty in June to charges of theft and false accounting after her employers found she failed to deposit $110,759 in cash sales over the course of more than a year.

But Susan Mulligan, counsel for Woolgar, said the crimes were the result of a mental health problem and the money had gone towards household expenses.

Ms Mulligan said: “At no time did anyone know. There was no hoard or stash. There’s nothing they can point to and say where the money has gone.”

The court heard Woolgar, from Warwick, had worked with CSI, an electrical supply company, for almost eight years before the offences were committed.

Duane Simons, her employer, approached her about undeposited cash and cheques in her desk in April last year.

Mr Simons later noticed two deposits were made into the firm’s account, but both were cheques. The absence of cash deposits made Mr Simons suspicious and he hired a consultant accountant to look at deposits made between March 8, 2017 and April 13, 2018.

The accountant found that $108,085 of sales recorded in the company’s point of sales system had not been deposited.

A further examination later revealed another $2,674 in undeposited cash sales.

The missing cash was reported to the police and, on June 9 this year, Woolgar pleaded guilty to two charges.

Nicole Smith, for the Crown, said Woolgar had exploited her position of trust to steal a substantial sum.

Ms Smith added that Woolgar knew her actions were wrong and that her actions were driven by greed.

She said: “This wasn’t a one-off theft. It was a continuous taking for just over a period of a year.

“It was planned; it wasn’t just a passing thought.”

Ms Smith added there was no connection between Woolgar’s mental health and her offences — but Ms Mulligan insisted it was a significant factor.

Ms Mulligan said Woolgar was the breadwinner in a family of four after her husband suffered a heart attack that left him unable to work.

She told the court that Woolgar’s mental health condition, combined with the excessive responsibility caused by her circumstances, had contributed to her actions.

She added the money was not spent on luxuries, but instead on “food, takeout, rent and living expenses”.

Ms Mulligan said the company had already been repaid the cash by Woolgar’s extended family and, given all the circumstances, a suspended sentence was appropriate.

Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe adjourned the case until February 3 for expert evidence from a psychiatrist on Woolgar’s mental health and how it might have affected her behaviour.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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