“Looking at this makes me want to be sick.”
Those were the words of Emma-Jo Alison Mason, 28, of Burnie, after her employerconfronted her with incriminating evidence.
On Friday, Ms Mason pleaded guilty in the Hobart Supreme Court tocounts of stealing, forgery and inserting false information as data.
Between April 2015 and July 2016, Ms Mason pilfered about $107,000 from BartlettsBarristers and Solicitors, a smalllaw firm with offices in Burnie and Smithton.
Responsible for the firm’s accounting system at the time of the offending, Ms Mason forged the signature of Chris Bartlett, a partner in the firm, so that she could cash cheques from the practice account.
Ms Mason created false invoices to cover her tracks.
She presented the cheques to the Burnie NAB branch, where she was required to also present her driver’s licence upon cashing them.
Ms Mason’s employers confronted her in August 2016, asking her whether there was anything she wished to disclose to them.
She denied any wrongdoing, until she was shown a cheque she had cashed.
The Crown sought a compensation order, which would require Ms Mason to pay back the entirety of the money she had stolen.
As the prosecution read from a transcript of apolice interview,Ms Mason was reduced to tears.
She was said to have told police she was “embarrassed” about what she haddone.
Ms Mason’s counsel Greg Richardson informed the court that his client was dealing with an “extraordinarily difficult financial situation” during the period of the offending, when her husband was unable to work following a motorcycle accident.
Indeed, the defence described Ms Mason’s debt level as “overwhelming”.
Mr Richardson revealed that Ms Mason had suffered a stroke in utero, which, a psychiatrist attested, impaired her cognitive functioning, particularly in regards to impulsivity and a relativeinability to solve problems.
Ms Mason will be sentenced on July 6.