10 March 2021

Canberra childcare director bailed as dishonesty charges mount

| Albert McKnight
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Exterior of Law Courts of the ACT.

Emma Louise Morton was granted bail in the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 10 March. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Charges against the director of a Canberra not-for-profit daycare are mounting, with police now alleging Emma Louise Morton stole $330,000 from Weston Creek Children’s Centre.

Earlier this month, Ms Morton was alleged to have stolen about $160,000 from the centre, where she worked as the centre director.

She was charged with 23 counts of obtaining property by deception before being denied bail to allow police time to complete their investigations.

READ MORE Woman who allegedly stole up to $500,000 from a childcare centre denied bail

Ms Morton appeared in ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 10 March, where she was granted bail after the prosecution laid an additional 26 counts of the same charge, and accused her of taking an extra $170,000 from the community-based childcare service between March 2020 and February 2021.

The alleged thefts included two sums of $50,000 and one sum of $30,000.

In total, the 46-year-old woman from Campbell is now accused of stealing $330,000 from the childcare centre and has been charged with 49 counts of obtaining property by deception.

In court on Wednesday, Magistrate Louise Taylor read out the fresh charges to Ms Morton, who appeared via audio-visual link as she had been held in custody before being granted conditional bail.

Magistrate Taylor said the eight conditions included Ms Morton reporting to police once a week, forfeiting any passports, and not contacting anyone at or going near Weston Creek Children’s Centre except on one occasion to collect personal belongings under police escort.

Ms Morton, who has not yet entered pleas to her charges, was released from custody and will next appear in court on 19 March.

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According to the statement of facts for her original charges, from July 2020 to February 2021 she allegedly made 23 transfers of different amounts of money from one of the centre’s bank accounts to bank accounts in her name, totalling about $163,000.

The facts further state in March and April 2020, a staff member at the centre allegedly found three transactions worth $130,000 had been made in those months from one of the centre’s bank accounts.

When centre staff approached Ms Morton regarding the issue, she allegedly said their bank had advised her to move the first transaction of $50,000 to another bank and call it the “COVID account”, and that the two other transactions were to put money in a six-month term deposit.

After her arrest, police said the destination of these funds were unknown.

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Capital Retro9:55 am 11 Mar 21

Sounds like another victim of poker machine addiction. People with gambling addictions should never be allowed to work in a job where they can access money.

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