Coast mum, club president jailed over 'shameful' $23k theft
THE FORMER president of the Coolum Beach State Emergency Services branch has been jailed for stealing more than $20,000 from the club.
Michelle Joy Lillian Foxwell was a volunteer for the SES for nine years and continued to volunteer even as detectives investigated her fraud, a court has been told.
The 45-year-old was sentenced at the Maroochydore Magistrates Court today after pleading guilty in February to two counts of fraud and one count of stealing by clerks and servants.
Between December 3, 2015 and April 27, 2017, Foxwell stole more than $23,000 from the Coolum SES branch.
Police prosecutor Sam Rigby said Foxwell made 17 withdrawals from an SES bank account worth $16,075.
She withdrew $2279 from a second bank account and used more than $4000 of the club's Coles and IGA Supermarket funds.
Those funds were normally used to supply food and water to emergency workers, the court heard.
Mr Rigby said she used the stolen funds for her own groceries, cigarettes and lottery tickets.
He called Foxwell's offending a serious "breach of trust", "deceiving, disrespectful and shameful".
The court was told Foxwell wrote out the cheques to herself and withdrew the money in cash amounts.
The court was told she kept cash "pooled" in her home.
Defence lawyer Bernie Bradley said his client was suffering a personal crisis and in need of funds at the time.
He said Foxwell's actions were a "cry for help".
"This happened about the same time her asbestos-suffering father came to live with her.
"She became his full-time carer, and not only had to provide for him but also her own family.
"She only worked as a cleaner."
Mr Bradley told the court Foxwell had transferred $10,000 into his trust account, to be paid back to the SES.
"The family has managed to scrape together this money, and they are not wealthy people," he said.
Mr Bradley said Foxwell's husband left her upon the discovery of her offending.
However, Magistrate Ron Madsen said the woman had "slapped" everyone involved "in the face".
He told Foxwell her attempt at taking the matter to trial to contest the charges was "unbelievable".
"You knew you had been caught," he said.
"But you made witnesses and the police give statements."
He noted the matters had been adjourned seven times prior and was not a "timely plea".
"I would have been too embarrassed to lift my head in public."
The maximum penalty for Foxwell's offending was 10 years' imprisonment.
He said Foxwell had let family, friends and the organisation down "miserably" and in the "most horrible way".
Magistrate Madsen imposed a two-year jail term and ordered her to serve at least four months behind bars before parole release.
She was also ordered to pay the rest of the amount stolen back to the club in restitution.