How a teen who stole $45,000 ended up with $11

FOR four months, an Ipswich teenager took wads of cash from her employer's safe, threw the evidence in the bin and spent more than $45,000 on the pokies.

Sometimes Hayley Jane Cook would take $2000, sometimes $3000 and on three occasions she took $5000 from the Prince Alfred Hotel at Booval.

She used her pin number to access the safe 14 times between July and September last year, crimes she was jailed for in Ipswich Magistrates Court yesterday.

Forensic accountants tracked the missing cash to Cook's pin number but she denied taking the money when police questioned her.

Cook, 20, had not repaid any of the money by the time she was jailed for theft.

Her defence lawyer, Ali Rana, said she did not have the capacity.

Mr Rana handed Magistrate Virginia Sturgess a copy of Cook's bank statement, which showed she had $11 in her account.

"It's not the case that she was gambling purely for enjoyment, she had a very serious gambling problem," Mr Rana said.

"She squandered all the funds she stole, some on household bills but the majority she used for gambling."

He said Cook acted with a "complete lack of sophistication".

Ms Sturgess said "not a single cent" of the stolen money had been repaid.

"Despite the evidence you denied taking the money, throwing the receipt in the bin and then walking out with the money in your pocket," she said.

She said she took the references from Cook's boyfriend and family "with a grain of salt".

"They will see it in a more sympathetic light than the objective observer," Ms Sturgess said.

"You abused your position of trust."

Cook pleaded guilty to 14 counts of stealing as a clerk or servant and was sentenced to two years imprisonment with parole after serving six months.

She was ordered to pay $29,930 to the victim business's insurance company.

What she stole

  • June 2016: $12,260 over three transactions
  • July 2016: $17,660 over six transactions
  • August 2016: $7660 over three transactions
  • September 2016: $7610 over two transactions

Total: $45,190

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