A Wollongong woman who stole almost $200,000 from a hospital charity to feed her gambling addiction has failed to have her jail sentence suspended.
Carole Goddard will spend eight months behind bars after pleading guilty to feeding money from the Friends of Wollongong Hospital charity into her own pockets while she was acting as the group's treasurer over a six-year period.
A district court sitting in Sutherland heard Goddard, 56, used the funds to gamble at pubs and clubs throughout the Illawarra, or to pay for rent and household items when she'd blown her weekly wage on the pokies.
Police documents presented to the court said Goddard's scheme only came to light when the group's secretary, Roslyn Perizzolo, received an anonymous email mid last year detailing the allegations.
When Mrs Perizzolo checked the charity's NAB account, she discovered the balance was $174.18 - not the $196,344 that Goddard had claimed was in the account in a financial report presented to the board of directors in April the same year.
Mrs Perizzolo immediately notified the charity's accountant and police.
An audit of the charity's finances, conducted in February this year, found a total shortfall in funds of $328,092, with the discrepancies beginning to show around March 2008, two years after Goddard had taken over as treasurer.
However, police were only able to link $196,000 to Goddard, who they said was responsible for handling all the charity's banking, bookkeeping, fund-raising, financial planning and budgeting and reporting obligations.
"Due to the length of time at these discrepancies and records take place police are unable to ascertain the exact amount of money that was taken by the accused," a police statement said.
"What is certain is that there is a $196,170 shortfall from the NAB account and the accused intentionally lodged a false report to the committee concealing this amount."
In court on Wednesday, Judge Paul Conlon said a letter written on behalf of the charity by its president, Patricia Kemp, said the members were devastated to hear they only had $174 to show for all their hard work.
"We worked hard to raise these funds ... now we're feeling sick and devastated by what's happened," she said.
Goddard, through her lawyer, sought leniency from the court, saying she was suffering from depression and anxiety at the time, and had post traumatic stress disorder from significant traumatic incidents that happened in her childhood.
Judge Conlon rejected Goddard's request but agreed to reduce her 18-month non-parole period to one of eight months.
She will be eligible for release in May next year.