A MOTHER-of-three has been spared a 15-month jail term after she stole almost $15,000 from four different businesses over several years.
Velinda Trimoski appeared in Joondalup Magistrate’s Court on Friday facing 98 charges, including eight counts of stealing as a servant, 43 counts of gains benefit by fraud and 47 counts of attempted gains benefit by fraud.
The court heard that in 2017 between August 18 and September 3, when Trimoski was employed by Wormald as a branch administrator in Newman, she stole $8262.82 and attempted to steal a further $10,918.58.
The prosecutor said that because Trimoski had “trusted access to customers’ credit information” she was able to fraudulently set up an account to receive payments from customers but nominated her personal account to receive the funds.
Then in November and December 2017, when she was employed by the Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation as a pathway advisor in Newman, she stole $894.35.
The prosecutor said she had access to a “load and go” Visa card, which she used to buy groceries.
Trimoski was also charged with making false health insurance claims from BUPA, receiving payments totalling $4028.70, and stealing $1600 in cash from a safe when she was employed at Super IGA in Landsdale in January 2013.
Magistrate Gregory Benn said it was “serious offending” and “from every angle” it was calling for a prison sentence, given the amount stolen, number of offences over an extended time and that she had received a suspended prison sentence in 2009 for similar charges.
While defence lawyer Jeremy Noble accepted prison was “entirely appropriate”, he requested it again be suspended.
He said Trimoski had three daughters – two teenagers and an 11-year-old – who would be “significantly impacted if she was sent to prison”.
Mr Noble also said there was a “genuine nexus” between the offending and the violent domestic relationship she had with the father of the children.
He said the couple had arguments over money, with a recent assault rendering her unconscious and with a broken cheek bone.
The court heard he was still living in the family home but this was because Trimoski’s mental health was “extremely fragile” and she could not cope without him, and he was “not an appropriate person for the children to live with by themselves”.
“He’s a loose cannon to say the least and when he goes off it has pretty terrible consequences,” Mr Noble said.
He said if Trimoski was spared jail, the children’s father would move out of the family home.
This was also confirmed by a letter from Trimoski’s doctor, the pre-sentence and psychological reports, and a senior social work officer from the Department of Child Protection who has been working with the family for the past few weeks and attended court to give evidence.
She said if Trimoski was sent to jail, there was “no way” they would leave the children in the home with their father.
She said they would need to be put into foster care, given they did not have a relationship with any extended family, but said it would be “virtually impossible” to keep them all together.
Mr Noble also said that following Trimoski’s previous suspended sentence in 2009 she did not receive any treatment or have any engagement with Community Corrections.
“She is crying out for help,” he said.
He said Trimoski felt “intense shame for the offending” and understood this was an “extremely borderline case”.
However, the prosecutor said the “pattern of continuous frauds” showed little remorse at the time and called for an immediate prison term.
“It was not a one-off, it was several times… with a variety of victims,” he said.
“She has clearly received a substantial amount each transaction and kept going.
“I sympathise she has not had an easy life… and having three children and no suitable partner does concern me but I have to mostly look at the offending.”
Mr Benn there was “absolutely no doubt at all” that prison was the only appropriate penalty.
“There was no shred of remorse or concern demonstrated throughout the offending,” he said.
“You were going out and committing these offences against an Aboriginal organisation and other businesses who endeavour to work hard and make a living so their families can be fed and supported and they have suffered.”
However, he said the impact of an immediate prison sentence on Trimoski’s daughters was “so exceptional” that he could consider suspending the sentence.
Trimoski was sentenced to a total of 15 months in prison, conditionally suspended for two years to allow her to get help.
“I am concerned that unless the situation at home changes dramatically, you do remain a high risk of offending in the future,” Mr Benn said.
“You are far from being out of the woods. This is your last opportunity to avoid immediate jail.
“If you come back even after the two years on any kind of dishonesty charge, expect immediate jail time.”
Trimoski was also ordered to repay the $14,785.87 stolen and court costs of $100.