Employee theft hits business hard
A WOMAN who stole thousands of dollars from her employer during months of offending was described in court as an "attacker of the very nature of business and employment in this country".
Nicole Heidi Hunwick, 31, worked at Footes Kalbar Pharmacy Shop for two years between February 2009 and February 2011.
Hunwick, from Aratula, was responsible for banking the business' cash and cheques each day at the Bendigo Bank.
In August 2010 the pharmacy owner became suspicious that his shop, when compared to others, wasn't generating any growth.
In early February he confronted Hunwick and another employee, and said he was going to call the police.
The next day, Hunwick phoned the store and said she "wouldn't be in on Monday".
She quit and was paid out her holiday pay and entitlements.
Meanwhile, an audit came back with what the owner had feared most - $6230 was missing.
Police questioned Hunwick on August 30 and she did not admit to stealing the money.
Ipswich Magistrates Court heard Hunwick's offending was "protracted in nature" and a "gross breach of trust".
Defence lawyer Yasser Khan said his client, a single mother of two, had stolen the money to buy food and other items for her children.
Mr Khan said Hunwick was "the black sheep of the family" because of her decision to have children out of wedlock.
"She always intended to return (the money)," Mr Khan said. "She was suffering post-natal depression at the time."
The court heard Hunwick's children were seven and 10-years-old.
Magistrate Michael Quinn said the only reason Hunwick stopped offending "was because she was caught".
"Employers are entitled to trust their employees, but over a long period of time you abused their trust," Mr Quinn said.
Mr Quinn said Hunwick had made absolutely no attempt to pay the money back, even though she had received her entitlements after she quit.
He said Hunwick had affected the viability of the business, which would have a continuing adverse affect financially on it.
"This is a most serious attack," Mr Quinn said.
Hunwick pleaded guilty to one count of stealing by clerks or servants. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison, wholly suspended for three years, and ordered to pay $6230 restitution.