Prosecutor may be a witness

AN ALLEGED thief plans to call a police prosecutor as a witness to show she was concerned about money being stolen from her business, the Launceston Magistrates Court heard.

Prominent Launceston businesswoman Susie Fisher, 56, of Newstead, is accused of stealing more than $30,000 from Australia Post during  2011 and 2012.

The defendant, who has pleaded not guilty, owns Susie Fisher's Newnham Pharmacy and Post Office in George Town Road. 

Prosecutors say Mrs Fisher stole the money from the Australia Post franchise located in her pharmacy.

Commonwealth prosecutor Ian Arendt said the defendant was motivated by her declining financial position.

The court heard that as a licensee Mrs Fisher would receive fees and commission on Australia Post transactions. 

The remainder of Australia Post funds were to be kept in a safe separate from the pharmacy revenue. 

Mr Arendt said records would show that Mrs Fisher withdrew a $27,000 cash advance on her Citibank credit card the day before an Australia Post audit.

She then arrived at the pharmacy with $16,000 in $100 notes, which she had placed in the safe to cover a ``deficiency'' in Australia Post funds.

The process of covering another deficiency just before a prearranged audit happened again, he said.

Then on May 23, 2012, Australia Post conducted a surprise audit revealing a deficiency in the safe of nearly $4000.

However, defence lawyer Evan Hughes sought to portray his client as a successful businesswomen with healthy finances, who had installed surveillance cameras in the store to combat theft. 

``(She's) a person of exemplary character with no history of dishonesty,'' he said.

The defence would also call a senior police officer who would say he was approached by Mrs Fisher to help stop theft, he said. 

The first witness, a former employee, said she began keeping a second set of books because of irregularities in the Australia Post accounts. 

Mr Arendt asked how the defendant responded when learning about the separate records. 

``(She said) I hope that never gets into the wrong hands,'' the woman said. 

The witness said she found IOU notes in Mrs Fisher's handwriting inside the safe for various amounts.

On one occasion Mrs Fisher asked staff how much money needed to be put back in the safe when learning Australia Post was about to conduct an audit. 

``(Later) she came in with bundles of $100 notes in her bag,'' she said. 

A few days after the audit the safe was down about $4000, she said.

Under cross examination the witness, who had no accounting qualifications, denied stealing the money herself.  

The woman disagreed there were IOUs ``everywhere'' around the store and denied ever putting one in the safe herself.

A second employee called to the stand confirmed the IOUs were in the safe and cash registers. 

Magistrate Reg Marron adjourned the matter until August 20.

The hearing is expected to run for two more days.