Wed, Aug 7, 4:33am by Kevin Pitstock
A court is hearing arguments in the sentencing phase of a trial after an Adelaide woman was found guilty of 271 counts of deception while working for the Family and Youth Services Department. According to a jury decision in Adelaide, Anne Dalton, 65, used her position at FAYS to steal over $100,000 to pay gambling debts.
Now that Anne Dalton has been found guilty, lawyers are arguing whether the woman should be placed in prison or under house arrest. Both sides have presented powerful arguments in their closing statements, so all that’s left is a decision on the part of the court.
Prosecution points to a 4-year pattern of criminal behaviour and an unwillingness to admit guilt as signs Dalton was calculating and remorseless and therefore deserves prison time. The prosecution also believes she should repay FAYS for the money she stole.
Dalton’s defence lawyers argue that the woman has a number of serious medical conditions, and these will make prison uncommonly harsh. Instead, Anne Dalton’s lawyers are asking that she be placed under house arrest, so she can get the kind of treatment needed. They also state she has no means to repay the money taken, so any requirement to do so would be unduly harsh.
From 1999 to 2003, Anne Dalton was a gambling addict who ran up debts well in excess of what she might hope to pay. As an official at the Family and Youth Services Department in Adelaide, she was in a position to make requests for public funding for victims of abuse.
Pretending to be a champion for abused women and their needy children, Anne Dalton filed 271 requests for funding. In these filed papers, she often made up stories about the imagined people involved. She would often select fake addresses, which turned out to belong to tennis courts and electrical substations.
Not only was she stealing from her employer, but Anne Dalton also gambled away the employment entitlements belonging to her husband. In doing so, she has ruined his financial stability and made a shambles of her husband’s retirement plans.
These various actions took place ten years, up until the time Mrs Dalton was caught in 2003. According to persecutors, she has shown little remorse for the crimes she’s committed.
Prosecution lawyer Peter Longson suggested to the court this matter should have been settled ten years ago in Holden Hill Magistrates Court. Now that Mrs Dalton is ten years older and walks with a cane, Longson finds it outrageous that she is asking for special treatment.
When the defence suggested Anne Dalton is suffering from severe depression, Peter Longson replied, “If she wasn’t depressed, that would be a concern. She has ruined her life. Anne Dalton is the author of her own depression, she chose this path.”
Defence lawyer John Lyons pleaded with the court to show mercy for the gambling addict. Lyons said, “There is no doubt about it…this woman fell off the path of righteousness. For the last two weeks, Mrs Dalton has been on the high-risk register for people at risk of suicide. This lady is going to suffer badly while in prison. She is going to suffer more than what would normally be expected for a prisoner.”
Such concerns carry little weight with the prosecution, who paint a picture of a cold-blooded liar and manipulator. Mr Longson went on to say of the defendant, “She has a narcissistic sense of entitlement and her hubris in this offending has been breath-taking.”
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