A Corrimal Coles employee who stole $13,000 worth of groceries from the supermarket giant while working late at night as one of the store's duty managers has narrowly avoided time behind bars.
Angelo Martino would regularly dismiss other colleagues from work and stay back by himself past the midnight closing time, taking advantage of the isolation to turn off the loading dock CCTV cameras in order to pilfer items not yet on the shelves.
The 26-year-old from Fairy Meadow was sentenced to a 10-month intensive corrections order in Wollongong Local Court this week after pleading guilty to a charge of stealing property as a clerk.
As part of the community-based sentence, Martino must perform 200 hours of unpaid community service work while being supervised by Community Corrections staff.
He was also ordered to pay $13,000 in compensation to Coles.
An agreed set of police facts said Martino would load the goods into a plastic bag, which he then carried in his mouth while swinging his arms beside him as he exited the store in order for it to appear as if he was leaving empty handed.
The scam, which took place over consecutive days in November 2017 and again sporadically during December and January, was uncovered by Coles' fraud team after unusual discrepancies were discovered in the store's stock levels.
Martino was interviewed by investigators in March 2018, at which time he admitted stealing groceries including biscuits, bread, milk, chocolate, stationary and dog treats.
He initially claimed he'd only taken $1,000 worth of goods, however it was discovered he was being "extremely conservative" when estimating the amount of items he'd taken and how much individual goods were worth.
Coles dismissed Martino on the spot and referred the case to Wollongong Police.
Martino was arrested in July 2019 and charged.
Police said he appeared genuinely remorseful when interviewed - a position that was reiterated in court on Thursday when Martino provided a written letter to the magistrate apologising for letting his family and his employer down by his actions.
The court was also provided with two references that spoke highly of Martino and his work ethic.