A WOMAN was sentenced to a suspended seven month prison term in Mandurah Magistrates Court today after she stole more than $27,000 from a church.
Tanya Botes pleaded guilty to 14 counts of stealing as a servant in April this year.
The offences took place while she was employed at Church of the Way in Coodanup over a four-month period in 2014.
The pastor of Church of the Way was present in court during Botes’ sentencing.
The police prosecutor told the court Botes attempted to pay the stolen money back but she had lost track of how much she had stolen.
He said Botes would record one amount on MYOB and pocket the difference.
Botes was fired after four months in the job “as it wasn’t working out”.
The disparity in funds was picked up during an audit of church finances in 2015.
Botes was arrested in December last year and admitted to stealing the money.
Counsel for the accused told the court that during mediation Botes had received forgiveness and assurances that God still loved her from the pastor of the church.
Botes had paid back more than $10,000 to the church, but still owed more than $16,000.
Botes stole her first amount of $99 on May 20, 2014.
On June 2, 2014, Botes stole her highest amount of $4297.
Botes’ counsel told the court that Botes’ son was being bullied at school at the time of the offences.
She told the court Botes bought her son an iPad, school uniforms and food with the stolen funds.
Counsel told the court that Botes’ husband found out about her offending in the newspaper.
Her husband was also in court to offer support.
Magistrate Vivien Edwards said Botes’ offences were a “gross breach of trust”.
“The level of shame, embarrassment and remorse persuade me that you will not offend in the future,” she said.
She sentenced Botes to seven months in prison, suspended for a year, with program requirements.
Botes cried when she received the sentence.
She was also ordered to pay $16,226 to Ansar Insurance.