Maroochydore Court House
Maroochydore Court House FILE

Mum jailed for $300k fraud to send kids to private school

A MOTHER has been sentenced to jail for stealing more than $320,000 from her employer and clients, while working at the investment company.

Janine Dawn Hartshorn made 286 fraudulent transactions over 11 years using her position at Anglican Financial Services to pay for her children to attend a private school.

The 62-year-old pleaded guilty in the Maroochydore District Court to one count of fraud.

The court was told Hartshorn transferred money from company and client accounts to her own account, her husband's and a third-party account.

Crown prosecutor Lily Brisick said the fraud was committed out of "greed rather than need", but the money was paid back before Hartshorn retired in October 2015.

To avoid detection, Hartshorn only stole money from a few accounts, small amounts each time.

But the fraud was uncovered when Anglican Financial Services was contacted by an accountant of one of the victims, questioning transactions with "fake postcodes".

It led to an investigation that revealed the extent of Hartshorn's 'sophisticated' work.

A massive sum of the repayments - about $245,000 - was returned after Hartshorn sold property months before she retired in 2015.

Defence barrister Mark McAuley said his client's daughter attended the private school in 2002, followed by her son in 2004.

Mr McAuley said Hartshorn used her credit cards to pay for the education but the costs began to build, and eventually "spiralled out of control".

He said since retirement, Hartshorn has used her time to volunteer at Lifeline and Neighbours Aid.

Before proceeding, Judge John Robertson asked Hartshorn if she was ready for the jail sentence he was about to give.

"You have had a lot of time to prepare," he said.

"I understand that you tried to rescue your family from a mountain of debt.

"But you were trusted by the financial institution."

Judge Robertson said it was unusual to see a case where the money had been paid back entirely, before the fraud was uncovered.

She was sentenced to five years' jail, to serve 18 months.

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