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SA woman copied colleague's fraud: court

AAP logoAAP 23/11/2016 Rick Goodman

A finance officer who dobbed in her fraudulent colleague went on to mimic his financial trickery to buy herself a car at the expense of an Adelaide Hills school, a court has heard.

Elizabeth Hatwell, 50, is also accused of using a company credit card to buy herself jewellery and furniture, as well as transferring cash directly from Emmanuel Christian Schools and Ministries into her own account.

"Put simply, over the course of about 16 months the accused repeatedly and dishonestly treated her employer's funds as her own," prosecutor Vanessa Burrows told the South Australian District Court on Wednesday.

Hatwell, from Strathalbyn, is on trial for multiple theft and dishonesty offences allegedly committed in 2012/13 when she worked for ECSM, an organisation that runs two schools and also charities.

The court heard Hatwell asked her boss Lew McMaster for a company car because a colleague had one but she was refused and was instead offered salary sacrifice options to buy a car.

"The accused was not particularly impressed with this suggestion and she told Mr McMaster that she intended to find out how another employee, Graham Pope, had got his car," Ms Burrows said.

As it turned out, Pope, who was later jailed, had secured his car fraudulently. Hatwell discovered this and reported it to her boss.

She provided a statement to police that described Pope's offending, before going on to buy her own car using the same method.

"Salary sacrifice contributions had not been calculated into his salary package and in fact had been paid directly from the college accounts," Ms Burrows said.

"Exactly what the prosecution alleges this accused also did.

"The organisation paid for it out of its own pockets."

Meanwhile Hatwell was also using a company credit card to buy items for herself from online stores and auctions.

"All sorts of things had been purchased: children's toys, electronics, appliances such as a convection oven and even jewellery," Ms Burrows said.

The trial is continuing.

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