Store boss's $77,000 fraud

A MANAGER at an Ipswich video store stole up to $80,000 from his employer because he was "addicted" to gift giving.

Hayden William Cook, 27, worked full-time at Network Video Booval for two years and was caught out when store owner Tina Gianotti discovered considerable losses during his shifts.

Mrs Gianotti said she knew something wasn't right about the end of 2009, and when she made some inquiries with a computer expert into the lack of money coming in she was told she "had a big problem".

"I couldn't sleep, I was sick with worry about it," Mrs Gianotti said,

"I spoke to him when he came in for a shift and said we had an unfortunate problem.

"He didn't admit anything so I showed him the records where he had deleted 433 sale items in one month - a huge number when other staff members were deleting six or so.

"I asked how long he had been stealing from me for and he said, 'Not as long as you think'."

Ipswich District Court heard the prosecution could prove Cook stole $50,000 and he was sentenced on that basis, but it could have been up to $80,000.

Mrs Gianotti estimated the amount was at least $77,000.

"He would often shout the entire staff dinner, bring them gifts and buy them drinks, see the same movie 15 to 16 times and was seen depositing large sums of cash into his bank account," she said.

Defence barrister Andrew West told Ipswich District Court Cook had compulsive spending habits, and after buying huge quantities of DVDs and books he would give the goods away as gifts to try and "please people".

Cook stole the money by cancelling transactions and taking the cash, writing off fees for overdue videos even though the customer paid, creating fake vouchers and adjusting in-store credit accounts - using his own and other employees' PINs to cover his tracks.

Cook pleaded guilty to stealing as a clerk or servant and was sentenced to three years prison.

He will be released on parole on February 27 next year.

Judge Deborah Richards said it was important people knew if they stole from their employer they would go to jail.

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