A Thurgoona support worker's gambling addiction has led to her stealing $400 from the account of an intellectually disabled woman in her care.
Despite being repeatedly "counselled" by her bosses to not do it, Jodie Lea Pattison continued to carry the woman's debit card in her wallet.
On a trip to Sydney on August 1, 2020, to see her daughter play soccer, Pattison went to the Panthers Penrith leagues club.
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She took out the card and withdrew the cash from an automatic teller machine in two $200 lots, which attracted $5 in transaction fees.
Pattison then gambled the money away on poker machines.
The 44-year-old, of Sundew Court, has pleaded guilty in Albury Local Court to a single charge of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
Magistrate Richard Funston asked defence lawyer John Gunson what was behind Pattison's offending, given it was "a very serious matter".
Mr Gunson agreed, but noted that Pattison had no criminal record and had repaid the money.
"But it's not the money is it? It's crossing the line," he replied, pointing out the breach of trust.
Mr Gunson said Pattison had lost her job and "has been greatly embarrassed" by the circumstances of her offending and, especially, the fact she was subjected to a home arrest by Albury police.
"She's tried to get on top of her gambling problem (but) she's got a long way to go," he said.
"She last gambled in April, so she's trying very, very hard. She's not heading to the clubs like she used to."
The court was told that Pattison had been employed as a support worker under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, as a team leader with Mercy Connect.
Her client had the "mindset" of a nine-year-old, was autistic and lived with other disorders.
Pattison would take the woman on outings in the Albury community and had control of her debit card, including the PIN number.
She was required to obtain receipts for all purchases with the card.
"On several occasions the management from Mercy Connect would have to contact the accused whilst she was not working as the victim's bank card could not be located at the group home," police said.
Pattison was stood down from her role in September over an unrelated matter. Mercy Connect interviewed Pattison over the card, then reported the matter to police.
Mr Funston said she clearly felt "enormous shame" and accepted she had a gambling problem, "and you'll have that for the rest of your life".
He convicted Pattison and put her on a 12-month conditional release order.
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