Grandmother secretly steals $280k from not-for-profit


A VOLUNTEER siphoned $280,000 from a not for profit organisation over 10 years to "upgrade" her lifestyle, a court has heard.

Helen Jeanie Barnes, 67, was sentenced to six years' jail in Brisbane District Court on Monday after pleading guilty to defrauding the Brisbane Art Directors Club from 2005 until 2016.

The court heard she was volunteering as a treasurer for the creative club and had sole access to the club's bank account, which she pilfered $280,000 from, later repaying $29,000 in a bid to conceal her fraud.

Prosecutor Christopher Cook said Barnes transferred the funds directly into her bank account and used the money to buy magazine subscriptions as well as clothes, beauty products and shoes online.

"It can't really be said she was someone who was merely using the money to pay for living expenses," Mr Cook said.

"She was really supplementing upgrading her lifestyle by stealing from this non-profit organisation."

It was not until the club's finances were audited in 2016 that Barnes's deception was revealed, the court heard.

Defence barrister Kim Bryson said the grandmother of three had an "excellent work history" and had managed to hold down a job while she was a single mother.

Ms Bryson said Barnes had health issues after having a fall a few months ago and had since had to move in with her daughter.

Judge David Reid labelled Barnes's protracted offending as a "great, gross breach of trust".

Because of her health, age and the "extreme unlikelihood" she would reoffend, Judge Reid made Barnes eligible for parole after 21 months in jail.

Barnes will be eligible for parole on September 1, 2021.

- NewsRegional

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