A WOMAN accused of stealing jewellery from a Warrnambool business and donating it to a local charity auction is fighting the charges.
Selena Gore, 29, previously of Ryot Street, Warrnambool, yesterday pleaded not guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court to a charge of theft and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
The court heard Ms Gore was employed at Micheli Jewellers from October 2010 to early 2011.
Former owner, Elvi Harris, said Ms Gore had been employed as a bench hand and her duties also included being a “gofer” and sometimes serving customers.
She told the court yesterday she suspected items were missing and met with two detectives stationed in Warrnambool to discuss her concerns.
The theft charge related to a pair of earrings described as 14 or 18-carat white gold diamond drop earrings, which retailed for about $3700.
Mrs Harris said she learnt a pair of white gold diamond drop pearl earrings, which retailed for $1600, were missing when she found out items by Ms Gore were being auctioned for charity.
Detective Senior Constable Wayne Ryan said he made inquiries with the parent company which supplied Mrs Harris with the 14 or 18-carat white gold diamond drop earrings and was given a document which showed one pair of the earrings had been sold at a US army base in Europe, one pair to Micheli Jewellers in Warrnambool and the others had been sold in the US or Canada.
Ms Gore told the court the white gold diamond drop earrings had been purchased while on holiday in Istanbul in 2009 and became part of her personal collection.
She said the white gold diamond drop pearl earrings were submitted to a Rotary auction in March or April 2012 and she had donated the two previous years to Rotary.
She said she bought the loose pearls from a company in Melbourne and a copy of the purchase and credit card statements were also tendered to the court.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Paul Harris put it to Ms Gore that she removed the white gold diamond drop earrings from Micheli Jewellers. Ms Gore said that wasn’t true.
He then put it to her that she donated the earrings to a charity because she knew they were stolen. Ms Gore said that would be stupid.
Senior Constable Harris asked Ms Gore if she would agree it was a huge coincidence that the same pair purchased in Istanbul were the same earrings in the Warrnambool store. Ms Gore said it wasn’t as huge as you might think.
He said: “Did it not make it a coincidence given that Micheli Jewellers were the sole distributor of their jewellery in Australia?”, to which Ms Gore said: “Yes.”
The hearing will continue today.