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.  

Image source: Deposit Photos

  • Very sad situation when a gambling issue causes someome to stoop to this level


  • Really sad story seems to be happening a lot.


  • It’s sad really. Gambling addiction is a major problem which can & will drive the best of us to commit acts outside our natures. I hope she gets help for her addiction & not just punished. Our greedy society where those with money pray on the vulnerabilities of the needy to make more money – they are the ones who should be held responsible.


  • Crimes of trust like this one are systemic abuse of a relationship built on trust. Quite disgusting really.


  • She should pay it all back. Stealing from a charity is disgusting.


  • So many people do great work for charity and this Marrs it for others and it is disgusting someone can do this she should be charged and locked up.


  • It’s terrible when people in positions of power abuse that trust. I think she should be forced to pay back as much of that as she can.

    • It is such a shame when this happens as so many people do good work for charity.


  • She shoould be forced to repay as much as she possesses. If she owns any assets she should be forced to sell them and repay more of the money. If she is bankrupted so be it. If a business is bankrupted they lose enough of their assets to clear their debt.

    • Totally agree with you. She should repay it all back.


  • Unfortunately it sounds like her addiction to gambling caused her to make terrible decisions, in this case stealing from a charity.


  • So much money! Unbelievable! What a stupid choice she made!!


  • Lke jz


  • The money was for charity not her own personal use for gambling!


  • This is not borrowing! It is stealing!


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