by Ross Irby
A YOUNG mum stole $13,000 from poker machines at a Bundy pub to feed her gambling addiction.
Mother-of-two Ashlee Walker stole from the Young Australian Hotel for about 20 months while she worked there.
Walker, 29, pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to stealing as a servant.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Andrew Blunt said Walker committed the crimes between August 13, 2015, and March 10 this year.
He said the missing money totalled about $12,957.
Snr Cnst Blunt said Walker was employed in the gaming area when the hotel owners began to suspect they were losing money through theft.
The business operators began checking and noticed money missing from areas of the hotel Walker specifically worked in.
They confronted Walker about stealing money from poker machines and then CIB officers spoke to her.
Walker admitted to stealing amounts of $500 or $1000 when picking up the day's cash takings.
"She would attend other places and gamble the money. If she won she would replace the money," Snr Cnst Blunt said.
"She says it became easier and easier to steal as it was not noticed. She says the owners were very nice people, but she continued," he said.
Snr Cnst Blunt said Walker was not sure how much she stole during that time but when told it was $12,957 had said: "I'm not surprised - I did it a lot."
"She was remorseful and wept a lot in the police interview," he said.
Defence lawyer Rian Dwyer said that while the offences were serious, probation was the most suitable penalty for Walker and that a conviction not be recorded because of future professional employment hopes.
Mr Dwyer said his client was married and receiving Centrelink benefits but had worked since she was 14.
Walker's parents had once owned a TAB and she grew up seeing people have big wins and developed an addiction, he said.
He said she had since "banned herself" from going to licensed premises and was getting gambling counselling.
Mr Dwyer said Walker would be affected by the court matter being reported in the NewsMail.
"She made a foolish decision, risking possible imprisonment," he said.
Magistrate Belinda Merrin said people went to jail for similar offences committed by people in positions of trust.
Ms Merrin said she would not jail Walker but, when looking at the objective seriousness of the offending, she was struggling to decide whether a conviction should be recorded.
She adjourned the sentencing to give her more time to think the matter through, and look at Court of Appeal decisions on relevant cases.