STOLEN CASH: Kyle Que Smith, pictured outside the Ipswich Courthouse, dipped his hand in the till to take more than $14,000 from his employer.
STOLEN CASH: Kyle Que Smith, pictured outside the Ipswich Courthouse, dipped his hand in the till to take more than $14,000 from his employer. Contributed

Trainee steals more than $14,000 from his employer

A TRAINEE, who was earning $11 an hour, stole more than $14,000 from his employer so he could pay his bills.

Kyle Que Smith was caught with his hand in the till, after his employer discovered money was missing during an audit.

The 19-year-old had been employed under a traineeship with Priceline Pharmacy when he committed the offence.

As part of his traineeship, he had been required to use the cash register.

Smith stole small amounts during a five-month period - $20 here, $100 there - which over time added up to $14,510.

After he was busted, he appeared in Ipswich Magistrates Court to plead guilty to stealing as a clerk or servant.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Brad Dick said Smith had committed a "serious breach of trust" against his employer.

Sgt Dick said the "protracted" thefts took place from October 31, 2014 to March 18.

His employer suspected something was amiss when the takings one day didn't add up.

Sgt Dick said after an audit was carried out, it was discovered that an "excessive" number of refunds had been made by Smith.

When Smith was asked by his boss to explain the refunds he admitted to stealing the cash.

The teenager signed a written agreement to pay back the stolen money and was fired.

Sgt Dick said Smith had so far paid back $4645.

Police became involved in the matter on May 13, after Smith stopped making payments and was unable to be contacted by his employer.

Sgt Dick said general deterrence should be taken into consideration in the sentencing of Smith.

"This was not a one-off offence," he said. "It was a protracted course of conduct which only came to an end when Smith was confronted by his boss."

Defence lawyer Tom Gardiner said Smith, now 20, had been suffering financial hardship when he stole the money.

Mr Gardiner said Smith had been living with his girlfriend in Cairns, away from his family in Ipswich, and was paying most of the bills.

He said his client had been earning $11 an hour as a trainee and had been struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Gardiner said Smith had made admissions, cooperated with police and had demonstrated remorse for his actions.

He said his client had no prior criminal history and was making attempts to repay the money owed.

Magistrate Aaron Simpson told Smith just because he was being paid a small wage, it didn't excuse him from taking the money.

Smith was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to pay restitution of $9865.



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