Pokie addict rips off employer for $167,000

GAMBLING addiction drove a bookkeeper to rip off her Toowoomba employer for more than $167,000 over a six-month period.

Dallas Maree Peterson, 32, had been hired by C&C Machining and Engineering from November, 2012, Toowoomba District Court was told.

Her duties included paying supplier accounts, wages and other invoices and only she and the company's financial controller had access to the internet banking account, Crown prosecutor David Jones said.

However, from March 6, last year, she had started redirecting money meant for supplier payments to her own bank accounts - just two days after the company loaned her $4000 when she said her mother had been affected by the floods in Bundaberg. This loan remained unpaid, Mr Jones said.

Peterson resigned her position with the company on September 4, last year, giving only two days notice, saying she had to leave as her mother was ill.

She moved back to Bundaberg and Gladstone where she found employment, the court heard.

However, just days after her departure an office manager had tried to order materials from various suppliers only to find the company's credit had been stopped due to unpaid accounts.

An audit of the company's books was then conducted and found a number of discrepancies.

The audit found a total 81 unauthorised transactions in which Peterson had transferred money into her bank accounts to the tune of $167,052.80.

Transactions had ranged from small amounts to the largest single amount of $12,149.72.

When found and spoken to by police in Gladstone in November, last year, Peterson admitted her offending, telling officers she had developed a gambling problem.

She said she had started spending afternoons at the Oakey RSL or another hotel playing the pokies for a couple of hours.

The court heard Peterson had taken to gambling during periods when her partner was away.

In a psychological report tended to the court, she spoke of being in a "dark place" and had used all the money for gambling.

Her partner provided a cheque for $20,000 to the court as part restitution and had offered to pay $2000 a month until the company was repaid in full, the court heard.

Peterson would help in making the repayments when released.

Peterson, who had no previous criminal convictions at all apart from breaching her bail recently, had spent the last 61 days in custody before appearing in court yesterday to plead guilty.

Judge Deborah Richards adjourned sentence so a court-ordered psychological report could be obtained on Peterson who was remanded in custody.

Topics:  editors picks gambling addiction pokies toowoomba toowoomba district court

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