A LIFELINE employee has been convicted of stealing $5000 from the charity - after he began working for them as part of his community service for a previous scam.
Ipswich Magistrates Court was told Ian Clive Callow, 48, was ordered to work for the charity after he was found guilty of embezzling almost $140,000 from Queensland Health, his previous employer.
Bosses at Lifeline were so impressed by Callow that they offered him a full-time paid role with the charity, convinced that he was a reformed character.
But Callow soon betrayed their trust and used his own access code to enter the Goodna Lifeline store on three separate occasions to take thousands of dollars.
He took money bags full of the daily takings during each visit and stole $5235.50 in total. His thefts were caught on CCTV cameras.
When tracked to his address Callow said he had "given the money" to an unknown person and the court heard the money was not recovered.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of entering a premises with intent to commit an indictable offence.
Prosecutors asked for Callow to serve time behind bars, given his record and the fact he had targeted a charity.
He was sentenced to two years and nine months' jail, but released on immediate parole.
Lifeline Queensland chief operations officer Ken Richardson yesterday said he was disappointed at the leniency of sentence given the nature of the theft.
"We are a little bit surprised and disappointed it happened in the first place," Mr Richardson said.
"As a community service organisation it will take a significant amount of work to raise that money again and put the money back in system.
"Every day we deal with people who are significantly disadvantaged and unfortunately this loss makes it harder to provide the support they need."
Police prosecutors said this type of offending would normally attract actual imprisonment.
"There is no other option," he said.
"But we understand he has capacity to pay restitution."
The court wasn't told where Callow was presently working.