Daniette Paulissen avoids jail sentence over $306k theft from Corrimal dental surgery

Daniette Paulissen
Daniette Paulissen

Balgownie thief Daniette Paulissen has avoided a full-time jail sentence for stealing $306,000 from the dental surgery where she worked for nearly a decade.

Paulissen, 34, was sentenced to a 20-month intensive correction order in Wollongong Local Court on Friday after Magistrate Brett Thomas said her decision to repay the money in full had substantially helped her cause.

Under the order, Paulissen will be required to perform up to 32 hours of community service work every month, be of good behaviour and accept the supervision of Corrective Services, who may order her to undergo counselling or treatment courses.

Court documents said Paulissen used her role as a financial manager at Corrimal-based dental surgery Contemporary Smiles to transfer $306,170 from company bank accounts into her own accounts between 2011 and 2016.

The court heard Paulissen was employed at the surgery when dentists Barry Phelan and Kurt Dean purchased the business in 2009. 

They retained Paulissen’s services, employing her in a financial management role that saw her responsible for the surgery’s weekly banking, liaising with accountants, paying staff their weekly wages and splitting surgery profits between the two owners.

As part of her job, Paulissen had signature and transfers rights for the company’s bank accounts, which she operated online.

In January last year, Dr Phelan’s accountant identified a number of irregular transactions. 

Following an investigation, it was revealed Paulissen had used her own passwords and log-in details to carry out almost 200 unauthorised transfers from two company bank accounts into her personal Illawarra Credit Union accounts.

The transactions ranged from $135 up to $3,836 at any one time.

Paulissen was charged with stealing as a clerk, to which she pleaded guilty.

Defence lawyer Justine Hall told an earlier court hearing that Paulissen had not led a lavish lifestyle on the stolen funds, but had simply used them to supplement her wage in paying day to day expenses.

“It’s not the case that she was taking European holidays, driving luxury cars or living in a mansion,” Ms Hall said.

“The extra money made it easier.”

Ms Hall confirmed Paulissen and her husband had refinanced the family home in order to repay the funds and risked losing it if Paulissen was sent to jail.

Magistrate Brett Thomas agreed to have Paulissen assessed for a community-based sentence.

In court on Friday, Magistrate Thomas said repayment in full in similar matters was “unusual” and despite court cases, victims were often left empty-handed.

He noted this was not the situation in Paulissen’s case.

“This is not insignificant and in my view shows her genuine contrition and remorse,” he said, also finding she had good prospects of rehabilitation.