A Terang office manager who stole more than $60,000 from a family-run business has been spared jail.
Lisa Pearson, 47, was jailed for 14 months in February after she pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court to the theft of $61,987 from Terang's Casaccio Egg Farm.
But she successfully appealed the severity of that sentence in Warrnambool County Court and on Tuesday was re-sentenced to a community correction order.
That order will run for two years and include 200 hours of unpaid work.
Pearson was employed as office manager at the farm between June 2014 and November 2019 and was responsible for incoming payments from delivery sales and farm door sales.
She received cash, cheques and documents from delivery drivers, as well as cash payments from customers who attended the farm to purchase eggs.
Pearson admitted to stealing $1000 per week over a five-year period but ended up pleading guilty to the theft of a lesser quantity of cash.
During the appeal hearing, Paul Smallwood, representing Pearson, said his client had transferred the full amount she stole into a trust account for restitution. He said Pearson borrowed those funds from her family.
Casaccio Egg Farm managing director Lina Sfetcopoulos said for years she had watched her parents pour their heart and soul into building their business.
She told the court that in 2019 the family's accountant advised them that they were operating at a loss and could face possible bankruptcy.
"We quickly came to realise that all the blood, sweat and tears they'd put into the business was potentially going to be for nothing," Ms Sfetcopoulos said.
She said the crime cost the family around $300,000, which included engaging a lawyer to assist in the case, as well as a new office manager that they knew and could trust.
But she said no amount of money could repair the impact the crime had on her family's emotional, physical and mental state.
"We're still suffering to this day," she said.
She said the financial implications left her mentally exhausted, emotionally and physically drained and that the time spent on the investigation and attempting to keep the business afloat put strain on her relationship with friends, her husband and three young children.
Casaccio Egg Farm has been contacted for comment.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.