A WAITRESS who stole business takings and staff tips from a Warrnambool café has been convicted and fined $5000.
Selena Gore, 30, of Ryot Street, Warrnambool, pleaded not guilty to three theft charges in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court in a three-day contested hearing.
Yesterday, magistrate Jonathan Klestadt found Gore guilty of all three charges.
She was convicted, fined $5000, ordered to pay compensation of $2310 and witness costs of $660.
Mr Klestadt said any theft was a significant act of criminal dishonesty, but Gore’s conduct in stealing from her employer Wyton Cellars also involved a breach of trust.
He said a victim impact statement from café owner Steve Hickman made that point very clearly as he indicated the business owners considered Gore not just an employee, but also a friend.
“Your conduct has deeply hurt them far beyond any simple financial loss,” Mr Klestadt told Gore.
The magistrate said that the business owners had “lost their innocence” and now had in place costly systems and security measures.
He said the offences were nothing more than an opportunistic way for Gore to enrich herself as she had no addictions and there was no one chasing her for money owed.
“There is a no explanation for your conduct,” Mr Klestadt said to Gore, who has no prior court appearances.
“The amounts involved are not stratospheric, although substantial for the business, but there is the aggravating element that part of the money taken was staff tips.”
Mr Klestadt said there could be little leniency in sentencing because Gore had pleaded not guilty and shown no remorse.
In handing down his findings, the magistrate said security camera footage appeared to show Gore removing notes, coins and a bag which was said to contain tips on October 26 last year.
He said that when Gore was interviewed by police on December 3 last year she made admissions to the offending.
Mr Klestadt said that in his experience of more than 30 years in criminal law, people with no history of offending do not make false admissions.
He said he was satisfied Gore had made genuine admissions to police and all three counts of theft were made out by the police prosecution.
It had been argued during the case that Gore made the admissions after a conversation took place before her interview with police about the court diversion program.