28 September 2022

Emma Morton seeks contested committal over charges alleging she stole from childcare centre

| Albert McKnight
Woman with man outside the court house

Emma Louise Morton (left) leaves court on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The woman accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a southern Canberra not-for-profit daycare centre will have her charges heard in a contested committal next year.

Emma Louise Morton appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday (27 September) where her lawyer, Rachel Fisher from Kamy Saeedi Law, sought a hearing for a contested committal.

Contested committals are generally about testing the strength of evidence for charges.

The prosecutor said there would be a discussion with Ms Morton’s lawyers to try to narrow the issues in contention, which would hopefully limit the scope of the evidence.

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It was his opinion that the matter would ultimately need to be committed to the Supreme Court due to the value of the alleged property, with some alleged amounts exceeding $30,000.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston listed the case for a one-day contested committal hearing on 17 May 2023 and continued Ms Morton’s bail.

Ms Morton spent about four hours trying to avoid being photographed by media waiting outside the courthouse before eventually leaving.

She was arrested in early 2021 and spent almost two weeks in custody before she was granted bail, then pleaded not guilty the next month.

Man and woman walking

Ms Morton spent about four hours trying to avoid being photographed outside the courthouse on Tuesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The number of charges she has been given has increased over time and the 48-year-old is now facing 110 counts of obtaining property by deception.

The details alleged in most of the charges are unknown. But by April 2021, when 49 counts of the charge had been laid, she was accused of stealing $330,000 from the Weston Creek Children’s Centre, where she had spent 22 years as the centre director.

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Earlier allegations accuse her of making 23 transfers of different amounts of money from one of the centre’s bank accounts to bank accounts in her name from July 2020 to February 2021.

These alleged transactions ranged from under $1000 to over $32,000.

The Australian Federal Police has previously said the care of children at the childcare centre was not compromised as a result of Ms Morton’s alleged actions.

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