Dying cancer patient jailed

AN Ipswich woman who stole more than $5000 from her employer has been sent to jail for three months - despite the fact she has terminal cancer.

Jennifer Maree Howes, 60, pleaded guilty to stealing and defrauding a total of $5359.20 from Stoddart Metal Fabricators between 2005 and 2007.

She is already undergoing chemotherapy treatment after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

It is believed the cancer has since spread and she will continue to receive chemotherapy while serving her sentence.

The court was told Howes spent some of the money on her medical costs.

Crown prosecutor Kelly Jones said the Woodend woman was working as an accounts clerk for the Sunnybank-based company when the offences occurred.

Ipswich District Court was told Howes began her offending in 2005, defrauding her employer on 13 separate occasions over a 16-month period.

After receiving cash for various jobs Howes would cancel the entry in the company’s computer system and keep the money.

She also admitted to changing the name on a cheque on one occasion and banking it for herself.

The cancer sufferer had planned to pay back the money she stole, the court heard, however that did not occur.

The court heard Howes had a history of dishonesty and stealing from employers, with offences dating back to the early 1980s.

She was first convicted of stealing from an employer in 1981, which was followed by 26 counts of misappropriation in 1983, stealing in 1984, imposition in 1985 and fraudulently receiving sick benefits in 1986.

In sentencing, Judge Deborah Richards said deterrence was obviously an important factor in her decision to jail the defendant.

However, she noted Howes was undergoing chemotherapy and other drug treatment for cancer, which she was first diagnosed with in 2006.

The court was told “a lot of the money” Howes stole from her employer was used to pay for diagnosis and treatment of her illness.

Howes yesterday pleaded guilty to two counts of stealing as a servant and one count of fraud.

She was sentenced to concurrent terms of three years and 18 months jail for the offences, with Judge Richards emphasising that the defendant would have access to adequate treatment while behind bars.

The parole release date was also brought forward due to Howes’ poor health.

She will be released on September 3 this year.


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