A hearing in Wollongong Local Court has failed to get to the bottom of how more than 5000 chicken schnitzels went missing from North Wollongong Hotel.
The pub's former head chef, Kobina Amponsem, was cleared yesterday after charges of "schnitzel fraud" were dismissed against him.
Police had alleged Amponsem was responsible for discrepancies in the supply and sale of 5185 chicken schnitzels and 197 quiches from the kitchen during his stint running the popular pub's bistro.
But after a day-long hearing Magistrate Robert Walker, yesterday determined there was no case against the chef, noting problems with the hotel's procedures, accounting, and systems of work, had made it open to exploitation by staff.
"I don't think, in the circumstances, it would be safe to convict somebody when there were so many people and so many opportunities for exploitation, one way or another," he said.
Mr Walker said delivery and stock-check procedures, imposed by senior management, were not being adhered to and there was contradictory evidence about the role of duty managers in checking deliveries.
George Poulos, regional executive chef for the pub's managing chain Laundy Hotels, claimed Mr Amponsem had been required to give invoices for stock to the duty manager, who was then supposed to check the goods.
But former duty manager Daniel Woods said he was never told to check stock, and another one-time duty manager, Leah Thompson, conceded she had not checked Mr Amponsem's schnitzels or quiches when they were delivered.
Mr Walker also noted issues with the recording of chicken schnitzel sales, particularly when schnitzel was substituted for chicken breast in burgers and salads.
The court was told up to 60 meals a week, where chicken breast was replaced with schnitzel, were not recorded as a "schnitzel sale".
Mr Walker dismissed two counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage for deception, and one count of obtaining money by deception against Mr Amponsem.