'Desperate' Gympie mum jailed for stealing $45k from boss
A GYMPIE woman of acknowledged "excellent character" went to jail today for a $45,000 fraud driven by poverty and desperation.
Mother of four, Jodianne Maree Kretschmer, 42, wept as she hugged family members before being led to the courthouse cells, before being taken to jail in Brisbane.
Kretschmer had pleaded guilty to stealing $45,205.70 over nearly five years as an employee of Suncoast Podiatry in Channon St, Gympie.
Police told the court that, even after the long series of thefts was discovered, the podiatry business had described her as "being highly efficient and having excelled in her position."
The court was told the onset of an incurable medical condition suffered by her husband had led to travel and medical expenses which left the family with no money for rent or food.
Gympie magistrate Chris Callaghan told Kretschmer he accepted that her crime was one of "need rather than greed," but said all comparable sentences indicated that he had to send her to jail.
Mr Callaghan said Kretschmer had failed to bank all the money she recorded as having been received by the business between June 12, 2014 and March 27, 2019.
The thefts averaged out at $198.27 a week, police said.
From small beginnings of $630.30 stolen between July 2014 and July 2015 and $300 in 12 months to July 2016, her stealing grew to $15,700 in the year ended July 2019 and $17,000 in the eight months to March 2019, when she came under investigation.
Police told the court Kretchsmer had no criminal history.
Prosecutor Lisa Manns said Suncoast Podiatry Pty Ltd operated a number of clinics in the Gympie and Sunshine Coast regions, including the one in Channon St where Kretschmer worked as a receptionist.
Her job included handling, recording and banking cash for the company's Gympie and Tin Can Bay clinics.
Sgt Manns said the business had in January and February this year discovered discrepancies in amounts banked by Kretschmer.
Investigations showed discrepancies between financial records kept accurately by Kretschmer and actual cash banked.
On April 5, she had sent a lengthy text message which "included her apologising, denying taking the money but then also admitting taking the money on a number of occasions."
She had also said she was "disgusted with herself," Sgt Manns said.
She had apologised in person on April 7 and blamed her home life, saying she had no idea how much was involved, but that it had been occurring for "maybe five years."
She was sacked on April 11 and her conversation with the practice manager had been recorded, Sgt Manns said.
Kretschmer had repeatedly apologised and was "extremely remorseful.".
She said she had taken "a little bit" each week for extra groceries and other similar expenses.
The manager had apologised to her for terminating her employment and Kretschmer had said: "Don't apologise to me, I don't deserve anything. I shouldn't have done it."
Police described her as "genuinely remorseful" during their contact with her when she was charged.
Kretschmer's solicitor told the court her four offspring were now aged 20, 18, 15 and nine, two still at school and all still living at home.
Her husband had been diagnosed with an untreatable and incurable genetic condition in 2016 after six years of symptoms, which had rendered him unemployable.
He was on a disability pension because his condition meant he was unable to work more than a few hours at a time.
Kretschmer had been working part time and supporting the whole family, including her husband's medical expenses and travel to Brisbane for specialist treatment.
"There was no money for food or rent after paying her husband's medical bills," the solicitor said.
This led to such a difficult financial position that she had succumbed to temptation.
"She is remorseful, embarrassed and ashamed of her conduct," the solicitor said.
Mr Callaghan said stealing had commenced with relatively small amounts and on many occasions when she did the banking, nothing was stolen.
"You are extremely remorseful," he said, also noting the consequences of a jail sentence on her family.
"The courts have on many occasions said that sometimes these are the consequences of criminal behaviour.
"Having regard to comparable decisions, I am confident prison should be imposed."
The maximum penalty for the offence was 10 years jail and the maximum able to be imposed in the magistrates court was three years.
"The victim seemed to be quite supportive of you, saying you were an excellent employee and quite good at your job.
"But ultimately the blame rests on your shoulders.
"You have an excellent character. You have no previous convictions."
He said a short term of imprisonment was appropriate, despite the fact that it would mean she would lose her job and her family members would have to fend for themselves.
"It is to be hoped that you can pick up the pieces," he said, saying she did not need personal deterrence.
"The deterrence of other persons is a very relevant and serious consideration."
He sentenced her to two years jail, suspended after four months, suspended for an operational period of two years.
She is due for release on February 28.