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District Court of Western Australia. Photo: Alf Sorbello

Aged care worker jailed over payroll scheme

A pregnant aged care worker involved in a “sophisticated and disguised” scheme with her cousin to steal more than $150,000 from her boss has been sentenced to 10 months in a West Australian prison.

Sandra Mumba, 27, was a carer and occupational therapist at Fresh Fields Aged Care when she conspired with her cousin, payroll clerk James Whiteman, to steal money between February 2015 and March 2018.

Whiteman adjusted Mumba’s overtime hours and the number of employees, with Mumba pocketing about $34,000 and transferring almost $55,000 to her cousin, the WA District Court heard on Tuesday.

The rest of the money was paid to the Australian Taxation Office in taxes by Mumba’s employer, so she did not receive the cash.

Judge Michael Gething said there was a clear element of persistence in Mumba’s offending, which could have gone unnoticed had it not been for another employee.

“Frauds like the one you carried out are very difficult to detect and that reinforces the need for the court to impose sentences in these types of cases, which are of a sufficient level to deter people who might be tempted to offend,” he said.

But Gething accepted Mumba had been influenced by Whiteman, was remorseful and at low risk of re-offending.

Whiteman was previously sentenced to three years in jail for stealing a total of $326,000.

Fellow employee Bridget Chandra, who separately to Mumba stole almost $150,000, was previously sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Gething noted Mumba was younger than Chandra and had a disadvantaged background, yet had done an enormous amount of work to improve her life before this offending.

He also took her pregnancy into account, saying prison would bear much more heavily on her.

Mumba, who pleaded guilty to stealing as a servant, will be eligible for parole after serving five months behind bars.

Gething said he deliberately structured the sentence so Mumba could potentially be free by the time her baby was due to be born in November.

She was also ordered to repay Fresh Fields.

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