This article appeared on the ABC news site in early February 2017
A former director of a Bunbury property management company will spend at least 16 months in jail, after stealing more than $500,000 from the family business.
Sheree Lee-Anne Edwards stole the money from WA Strata Management in Bunbury, where she was co-director of the company alongside her in-laws.
The District Court in Bunbury was told the money was taken from the company’s trust account over a 16-month period, beginning in March 2015.
Edwards was charged with 83 counts of stealing as a director or officer of a company, an offence which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.
The amounts stolen ranged from $562 to $25,000 and were disguised as payments for utilities and other services.
Edwards’ defence lawyer spoke about his client’s lack of criminal record and the deep shame she felt as a result of her actions.
The court was told Edwards was in a tough financial situation, with a hairdressing business she had bought into under strain, and her husband unemployed at the time.
The prosecution argued Edwards had used only a small portion of the stolen money for the struggling beauty business, and on one occasion she already had $80,000 in her bank account when she transferred more money from the company account.
In handing down his sentence Judge Michael Gething noted that $412,000 of the stolen money had been repaid by Edwards with help from her family and by selling her assets.
Taking into account an early guilty plea and her personal circumstances Judge Gething ordered Edwards to spend two years and eight months behind bars, describing her offences as “deliberate, systematic and planned”.
Edwards will be eligible for parole on May 30 next year.
Unit owners should be seeking a monthly ledger of their corporation’s account, along with access to paid invoices online or supplied in paper form. We suply the ledger to the Treasurer in all our client groups. Officers and the Management Committee have online access to all paid accounts. This level of transparancy makes theft through false invoices difficult if not impossible.