A former policeman who admitted stealing $57,000 from a Perth police station because of a gambling addiction has been jailed for 14 months.
Robert John Talbot Lawrence, 40, had pleaded guilty to four charges of stealing as a public servant and was sentenced to an immediate jail term in the District Court this morning.
The court was told Lawrence, who joined the police force after leaving school, stole the money over 2.5 months last year because he needed to repay a large debt because of his entrenched gambling habit.
The court was told Lawrence stole on one occasion to replace an earlier amount he stole.
Sentencing Lawrence this morning, Judge Anthony Derrick said the offences had involved a significant breach of trust and the community had the right to expect police officers to obey the law.
Judge Derrick said Lawrence resorted to stealing the money when he was unable to meet his financial commitments because of his gambling addiction.
The money which was stolen had either been seized or deposited in payment of outstanding warrants.
The court was told Lawrence had since resigned as a police officer after he confessed to internal affairs that he stole the money.
Lawrence's lawyer Lyn Zinenko said the 40-year-old had repaid more than $28,000 and he had always intended to repay the money.
Judge Derrick said Lawrence had stolen he money in the hope it would provide a "quick fix" for his financial problems.
He accepted Lawrence was genuinely remorseful and had taken steps to address his gambling addiction.
Judge Derrick said it was inappropriate to sentence Lawrence to a suspended sentence, saying the offences had involved significant dishonesty, a breach of trust and an adverse impact to the State.Lawrence will be eligible for parole after seven months.
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