Till theft guts Queenstown colleagues

Queenstown Cookie Time store workers felt "a sense of betrayal" after its manager was caught stealing nearly $2000 from its till over a five-month period, a judge says.

Elsa Evangelina Velazquez Robledo, 31, had been store manager for two years when on ‘‘numerous occasions’’ between September 5 last year and February 14, she took cash from customers and put it in the till without registering the transactions.

The Mexican national then pocketed the cash during or after her shift, taking care to hide her actions from the store’s CCTV camera.

After initially denying the charge, Velazquez Robledo admitted one charge of theft by a person in a special relationship, and was convicted by Judge Russell Walker in Queenstown’s court in July.

Mountain Scene has just received his sentencing notes.

Walker said a victim impact statement written by the defendant’s former workmates showed how ‘‘deeply felt’’ her actions were by them.

Another manager endured ‘‘sleepless nights and nightmares’’ as the financial inconsistencies were uncovered and investigated.

That distress was compounded by accusations the defendant had made to higher managers.

‘‘The emotional toll, it would appear, on some of your colleagues has been fairly immense … you were described by your employers as being a strong, charismatic leader and that you were friends with much of your team — and that has led to a sense of betrayal and confusion.’’

Walker convicted Velazquez Robledo and sentenced her to 100 hours’ community work, and ordered her to repay the $1962 she nicked.

She had lost her job, and her conviction will affect her ability to find work, he said.

‘‘The sense I get from reading this file as a whole, is that this offending seems to have been a tragedy all round.’’

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