No jail time for theft

A PASTRY chef who fleeced his employer out of $1000 has been slapped with a suspended jail term after fronting court.

Simon Peter Stringer appeared in the Warwick District Court yesterday, where he pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud as an employee.

The qualified pastry chef was employed at a Warwick eatery at the time of the fraud.

The court heard the 36-year-old seized an opportunity to pocket the extra cash after finding a work debit card on a counter in September of last year.

The card was subsequently used to make two $500 withdrawals.

A CCTV camera captured footage of a car similar to Stringer's at one of the ATMs accessed.

During yesterday's proceedings, Crown Prosecutor Noel Needham told the court Stringer confessed to his employer when confronted over the incident and asked for forgiveness.

However, when police spoke with Stringer he denied taking the money.

The money had not been paid back by the time of Stringer's court appearance yesterday.

The court heard Stringer was now living in Port Macquarie with his defacto and her child and was still working as a pastry chef.

Mr Needham told the court the man had a history of dishonesty, having been fined in 1995 for stealing a $50 bottle of perfume to give to his mother.

Stringer's defence counsel, John Bailey, told the court the offence was when Stringer was 19 years old and had no money to buy his mother a birthday or Mother's Day gift.

Judge Julie Ryrie acknowledged the differences between the two offences but offered Stringer a stern warning on the harsh penalties that applied for such fraud.

She told him that while it was a relatively small amount of money involved, the maximum penalty he faced was up to 12 years in jail.

The court heard the tough penalties were to preserve employer-employee trust.

Stringer was sentenced to six months jail, wholly suspended for 12 months.

He was also ordered to repay the money to his former employer and was given 12 months to do so.

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