A MAN who collected donations for Red Cross in Apollo Bay and then kept most of the cash has been fined.
Timothy Lawford, 34, now of Princes Highway, Port Fairy, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court this week to two counts of theft.
He was convicted and fined $500 and ordered to pay $429 compensation.
In March this year Lawford offered to collect donations for the Red Cross in Apollo Bay and was issued with a collection tin, badge and a receipt book. He was allocated a number of streets in the town where he was to collect donations.
Lawford soon after contacted the Red Cross and requested another receipt book.
At about the same time other volunteers contacted Red Cross organisers to say that donations had already been collected from their allocated streets. Lawford then handed in $53.25 as the donations he had received.
His first receipt book indicated he had collected and issued receipts for $182.
Police officers then executed a search warrant at Lawford’s home where they found a second receipt book, despite the accused saying that local children had ripped up his receipts.
The two receipt books showed Lawford had collected $479 and only handed in $53.25.
It is not known how many donations were received where receipts were not issued.
The court heard that Lawford had prior convictions in South Australia and had served three stints in jail for driving and violence offences.
Defence counsel Matt Senia said his client had an intellectual disability and used the money for daily living expenses.
Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt said he could not accept that Lawford did not know he was doing the wrong thing, but he understood that life was harder for Lawford than many other people.
“You can’t take money to which you are not entitled,” he said.
“You are not smart enough to avoid detection when you do these hair-brain things. This sort of behaviour only gets you into trouble. If you keep behaving this way you will finish up back in jail.”