Over seven years a Sydney grandmother took cash from one of Australia’s oldest charities to fund her gambling addiction – racking up a total haul of excess $148,000.
72-year-old Marlene Barry stole this extraordinary amount of money from the Benevolent Society’s Meals on Wheels service, where she was employed as the Client Service Officer. She funnelled her illegal gains into the poker machines at the Pittwater RSL Club – always trying to hit the big time win.
Mrs Barry faced Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court yesterday with Magistrate Alison Viney sentencing her to a 15-month custodial sentence that is likely to be served via home detention.
“She is a person of very good character, but that very good character put her in a position of trust within this charitable organisation,” Magistrate Viney said as part of her sentencing. “Every time the money was taken it required the thought process to be gone through. The offender tried to explain [to herself] that she was only borrowing from this organisation, but over time that just became a nonsense quite frankly.”
“The community is rightly outraged when people in positions of trust steal from organisations, particularly those with a charitable bent,” she said.
Whilst her honour found that the offence met the threshold for a custodial sentence, Magistrate Viney took into account Ms Barry’s early guilty plea and the fact that she has agreed to repay $50,000 to her former employer from her superannuation fund. She indicated that she would allow Ms Barry to serve the sentence via home detention if suitable.
A final decision on this case will be handed down on April 28.
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