Cleaner stole clients' cheques

A YAMBA cleaner has admitted stealing and cashing cheques worth $5500 from elderly clients while working for a Government home-help organisation.

Joanne Withers, of Telopea Avenue, was employed by Homecare as a cleaner at the time of her offences late last year.

The organisation is run by the Department of Ageing to provide assistance to elderly and disabled people in the community who want to continue living in their own homes.

Withers pleaded guilty in Maclean Local Court yesterday to 12 dishonesty offences involving the theft and use of four cheques.

The 40-year-old was excused from appearing in court, having sustained a broken leg.
In pleading guilty to the charges, she admitted stealing a total of four cheques from two separate clients between October and December last year.

The first victim was an 83-year-old man who lived in a unit. According to police, Withers found the man’s cheque book in his bedroom wardrobe and removed one cheque, leaving the stub.

She then filled in the cheque for $1000 cash and forged the man’s signature, before depositing the cheque into her own bank account.

The second victim was an elderly woman whose house she was also cleaning as an employee of Homecare.

Police said Withers found the woman’s cheque book where it was hidden in a bedroom drawer.

Withers removed three cheques, making each out to $1500 cash and forging the woman’s signature.
She deposited one cheque into her own bank account and the rest into another account, to which she was a signatory.

Both victims reported the thefts to their banks and police after seeing the unauthorised transactions on their bank statements.

The banks provided information to police about where the cheques were deposited. As a result, Withers was arrested at her Yamba home on January 20.

The two victims are now seeking compensation for the full amounts stolen.

Withers will be sentenced in Maclean Local Court on April 14. Bail was continued.

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