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Suspended sentence

Tuesday, 15th May, 2012

A local woman charged with stealing almost $160,000 from a motel where she worked has received a lengthy suspended sentence.

Nicole Lea Robson (28) stole the money between April 2010 and May 2011 whilst employed as a receptionist at the Comfort Inn Hilltop Motel in Kaolin Street.

Ms Robson was charged in June last year with six counts of stealing property as a clerk.

It is alleged that Ms Robson stole the money by transferring it from different parts of the business into her account.

She originally pleaded not guilty to the charges, but changed the plea earlier this year after the case was adjourned.

The matter appeared in the Local Court yesterday where Ms Robson received a conditionally suspended sentence of 20 months and was ordered to pay $159,949 in compensation.

The maximum sentence for the crime is 10 years imprisonment.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy said that the sentence was suspended as an “act of mercy” towards Ms Robson.

However, if Ms Robson breaches the conditions imposed by the court, she could be resentenced. 

Magistrate Dunlevy said that in sentencing Ms Robson he had taken into account a number of factors which made the case unique. 

“Ultimately, when dealing with cases such as this, it is a matter of instinctive synthesis,” he said. 

These factors included that the offence was Ms Robson’s first; she is caregiver of five children including a disabled infant and is receiving psychiatric treatment.

During the proceedings, Ms Robson’s Sydney-based lawyer said that Ms Robson had received “mortifying” legal advice from a previous lawyer who had lodged the plea of not guilty on Ms Robson’s behalf.

She also urged Magistrate Dunlevy to take into account that the stress of the year-long case had caused Ms Robson to go into premature labour with twins.

The lawyer said that Ms Robson felt remorse for her actions and that she had already received a degree of punishment through the “humiliation” caused by local media coverage of the case.

Magistrate Dunlevy dismissed this argument as a result that comes with committing a crime.

Ms Robson’s lawyer said that she had spent the stolen money on gifts to “cheer up her mother, sister and kids”.

She has unsucce-ssfully applied for several loans to pay back part of the money and is now looking to borrow from family members.

Ms Robson has 28 days to pay the compensation to the motel owners. 

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