12 December 2023

Officeworks manager caught stealing $50,000 from company was 'addicted' to thefts

| Albert McKnight
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two men walking to court

James Henry (left) was supported by his barrister, Jonathan Cooper, when he arrived for his sentencing. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A former Officeworks manager who stole almost $50,000 from the company by sending refunds to his own bank account had become “addicted” to committing the thefts.

James Henry, 34, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft before he was sentenced to a two-year intensive corrections order (ICO), a community-based sentence, by the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday (12 December).

He had worked as a retail coordinator at Officeworks in Fyshwick, a managerial position in which he was able to process refunds of over $200, which was more than what other staff were allowed to do.

For over a year between 2021 and 2022, he processed 260 refunds, totalling nearly $49,500, onto his own Mastercard and then into his bank account.

His thefts continued over 13 months until March 2022 when a store manager noticed anomalies during a refund stocktake and numerous refunds being made to his bank card.

The manager also looked at the security camera footage, which showed Henry committing one theft earlier that month – a refund worth $817.

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Management was notified and he was suspended. He wrote a letter to Officeworks saying he accepted responsibility for his actions and attributed them to his mental health and financial stress. He was then fired.

Justice Louise Taylor said Henry, who was seen wiping his eyes several times during his sentencing, had exploited the trust extended to him by his employer.

She said the offending was not sophisticated but lasted over 13 months and only stopped when the anomalies were detected, saying his criminality was high.

james henry

James Henry, 34, pleaded guilty to theft. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Henry said he had become “addicted” to continuing his offending despite knowing he would be caught. He described being unable to stop.

In his letter to Officeworks, he said what he had done was “a terrible mistake”. So far, he had repaid the company about $1000.

Justice Taylor was satisfied he had taken responsibility for his actions and had shown remorse, while he had been assessed at a low risk of reoffending and had excellent prospects of rehabilitation.

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A report said he had been affected by the shame caused by media reporting on his court case.

Henry was born and raised in Ireland, then first came to Australia during his gap year before moving to the country.

He is now enrolled in a Master of Secondary Teaching and works part-time as a high school teacher.

Justice Taylor was satisfied an ICO was appropriate in the circumstances and also made a reparations order, ordering him to repay about $48,000 to Officeworks.

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