Kathleen Stelling was ordered to pay nearly $2000 back to a charity she stole from while working there.
Kathleen Stelling was ordered to pay nearly $2000 back to a charity she stole from while working there. Contributed

Charity worker steals $2000 from 'malfunctioning' shop safe

A CHARITY worker who stole nearly $2000 from an op shop told police there was a "malfunction” with the safe so she took the cash home instead.

The Caloundra Magistrates Court heard how Kathleen Stelling, 38, was "absolutely gutted” to lose her job after pocketing $1994.05 from a safe at Kidney Support Network charity store.

Police prosecutor Amanda Brewer said police were called after staff at the Currimundi store caught Stelling on CCTV on February 17.

The court heard Stelling took the money "due to issues” with the safe, hid the cash under a desk and returned to the store the next day to take it home in a company car without permission.

Stelling didn't tell anyone the safe had malfunctioned or that she had removed the money from the safe.

Senior Constable Brewer said staff confronted Stelling who presented $860.15, mainly in coins, saying "someone stole” the remaining cash.

Stelling, who was studying to be a mental health worker, admitted to police she took the cash.

Snr Cst Brewer said Stelling told police "it was a mistake and gave no reason to taking it home” but she "didn't know where the money disappeared to”.

Duty lawyer Donna Hanslow-Hastie said Stelling took the money home to count it into its denominations, and had previously used the company car without issue.

Ms Hanslow-Hastie said Stelling was a "human car crash” before she began volunteering at the organisation, and was devastated to lose her job after recently being promoted to a paid worker.

Stelling sat with her head in her hands for majority of the sentence, and as Ms Hanslow-Hastie detailed her past addiction to prescription drugs.

Acting magistrate Stephen Courtney noted her remorse, saying it was a "real shame” she was before the courts.

"I can tell you're ashamed of your conduct,” he said.

"Temptation got the better of you.”

Stelling was ordered to pay $1994.05 restitution and complete a 12-months probation order.

No conviction was recorded.