A Kiama Downs bank teller will learn next month if she will spend time behind bars for fleecing thousands of dollars from the accounts of unsuspecting pensioners.
Angela Leata Patrick, 39, confessed in April to having pocketed a total of $20,800 that she skimmed from five elderly customers' accounts at the Westpac Bank's Kiama branch last year.
The victims were aged between 81 and 91, and all from the Kiama area.
Patrick pleaded guilty to 33 charges of using a false document to obtain a financial advantage between February and July.
In Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday, Patrick's lawyer, James Howell, asked presiding magistrate Susan McGowan to consider his client's prior good character and the remorse she had shown, which included paying back about a quarter of the debt so far, when determining her fate.
Mr Howell suggested that a suspended prison sentence would be an effective and appropriate punishment for Patrick, saying the prospect of full-time jail if she committed further crimes would be incentive for Patrick to abide by the law.
However, Magistrate McGowan said she was not convinced a suspended sentence would suffice, given the significant breach of trust in Patrick's actions and the need to send a strong message to the community that such behaviour would not be tolerated.
"The victims are vulnerable persons, aged pensioners," Magistrate McGowan said.
"The inference [made by Patrick] was that they wouldn't notice because they were old - I find that particularly affronting.
"Bank tellers are put in positions of trust not only by their employer but by the people who come into the bank."
Magistrate McGowan agreed to have Patrick assessed by authorities to determine her suitability for an intensive correction order.
The order, which was introduced by the NSW government in 2010 to replace weekend detention, sees an offender avoid spending time behind bars but is instead subject to strict supervision in the community from Corrective Services NSW.
The case will return to court on July 28.