An assistant manager at a Whitby charity shop stole over £4,000 from the British Heart Foundation.
But Elina Malniece, 31, walked free from court after receiving a suspended prison sentence.
Malniece, 31, was a trusted employee at the charity’s Baxtergate branch but her deception soon unravelled after she pocketed takings from the organisation.
Malniece, formerly of Briar Hill, Danby, but now living in South Wales, denied the offence and a trial was set for last Wednesday, but she failed to turn up. A rescheduled hearing was set for the following day at 10.30am, but Malniece didn’t show until 1pm.
Accompanied by a Latvian interpreter, Malniece entered a last-minute guilty plea before the jury was sworn in and Judge Jacqueline Davies adjourned sentence to the following day.
Prosecutor Nicholas Rooke said that instead of banking the takings at the shop, Malniece pocketed £4,310 between August and September 2014.
One of her duties was to cash up and either put the money into the charity’s bank account or stash it in the night safe.
But Malniece funnelled cash into her own funds while signing off paperwork in an attempt to prove it had been banked for the charity’s benefit.
Her bosses became suspicious after she signed the name of a volunteer at the shop to confirm that the money from one of the transactions had been banked.
Malniece faced an internal disciplinary hearing and was hauled in for police questioning, but denied the offence.
During the disciplinary hearing, she admitted that the signature or writing wasn’t the male volunteer’s, yet she still maintained her innocence.
Malniece was given a 48-week prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Judge Davies also ordered her to do 120 hours’ unpaid work, observe a 28-day curfew which prohibits her leaving her home between 8pm and 6am daily, and take part in a 10-day rehabilitation programme at the Women’s Project.
Malniece was also made to repay the full amount she stole from the charity in monthly instalments of £200.