A JAIL sentence has been overturned on appeal for a volunteer treasurer who stole nearly $40,000 from the Bendigo Gem Club in 2017.
Nathan James Wingrave, 32, will instead complete a two-year community corrections order and perform 150 hours of community service.
Judge Claire Quin dismissed a four-month jail term that had been handed down in 2021 at the Bendigo Magistrates Court.
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The decision was met with dismay by the club's president Helen Rothacker, yesterday.
"I can't imagine any community organisation wanting to engage with Nathan Wingrave," she said.
The impact of the theft on the club and its members had earlier been expressed in victim impact statements submitted to the court.
Members reported feeling deceived and cheated by Wingrave's actions. As a result of the theft, the gem club could not afford to install ramps and disabled toilets nor remove asbestos.
Wingrave used his position as treasurer between May and December 2017 to steal $39,602.95 by making out 14 cheques payable to cash and retaining the entire takings from the club's 2017 expo ($19,996) rather than depositing the money into a designated bank account. A further $7967.95 was stolen through membership sales, workshop fees, and silver sales.
Prosecutor David Cordy told the County Court earlier this week that Wingrave had struck at the heart of regional life in 2017 by betraying the club.
''A reading of the victim impact statements will illustrate the much broader impact of this type of offending on the community - not just those who were directly stolen from - but other voluntary organisations right across the spectrum in a city such as Bendigo," he said.
Defence lawyer Karin Temperley said her client did not have a prior criminal record, had entered a guilty plea and admitted to the thefts.
She said Wingrave had been experiencing a gender identity crisis and relationship breakdown at the time of the thefts. Her client turned to alcohol and online gambling during that period. Wingrave identifies as a non-binary gender and uses the pronouns they/ them.
Ms Temperley said Wingrave had stopped gambling and had been diagnosed with ADHD and gained employment, having been jobless in 2017 when the thefts occurred.
An earlier order had been made for Wingrave to repay the money and $4750 had been handed over. Judge Quin ordered Wingrave to attend alcohol counselling as part of the community corrections order.
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