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Perth woman Moe Moe Myint Kelly jailed over ‘ruthless’ theft of $2 million from employer

A 65-year-old Perth woman who over seven years “ruthlessly” stole $2 million from trusted family friends she worked for, has been sentenced to more than four-and-a-half years in jail.

Moe Moe Myint Kelly was employed as a bookkeeper and accountant for a Northbridge business, which operated both a pharmacy and a newsagent.

She was a family friend of the owners, and the District Court was told when the business started struggling, Kelly agreed to work for free until things improved.

However, unknown to the owners, she began funneling sums of cash from the daily takings into her own accounts.

The thieving began in 2011 and only stopped when Kelly made what was described as “a minor error” in 2018 which led to an audit that uncovered her crime.

The court heard when the owners confronted her, she claimed she had sent most of the money to charities in Burma.

State Prosecutor Justin Whalley SC said bank statements showed the sums Kelly deposited into her accounts ranging from just under $1,000 to $15,000, with most of them being around the $5,000 mark.

Moe Moe Myint Kelly’s earliest possible release date is April 2025. (ABC News: Glyn Jones)

In total there were more than four hundred separate instances of stealing, with records showing that between 2011 and 2015 she lost large amounts of money at the casino.

The owners provided victim impact statements to the court which detailed the struggles they went through including working around 100 hours a week and using their savings to pay their staff.

Woman was ‘riding a gravy train’

Mr Whalley said Kelly was a trusted family friend of the owners and he described her offenses as “a massive breach of trust”.

“We say she continued to work for nothing because she was riding a gravy train, that was providing her with hundreds of thousands of dollars a year,” he said.

Kelly was initially charged with stealing $3.5 million and had been due to stand trial earlier this year.

However, after negotiations, she pleaded guilty to stealing the lesser sum of $2 million, although Mr Whalley said it was not accepted the figure was that low.

“But it was not in the public interest to litigate the difference,” he told the court.

Kelly’s lawyer said her client, who was born in Burma, had an extremely deprived childhood that included effectively being “abandoned” by her parents when she was seven.

She said Kelly was now married to a man who had been diagnosed with cancer.

Aggravated, ‘ruthless’ offending

Judge David MacLean told Kelly her crimes were aggravated because she was a trusted family friend of the business owners.

“You had a ringside seat to their suffering… you cynically abused that position of trust,” he said.

He also described her actions as “ruthless”.

“You stole directly, repeatedly without guilt, remorse or shame from someone you appeared to consider as family,” he said.

Judge MacLean said greed appeared to be the motivation for the offenses.

“It was undertaken by reason for a desire to either enrich yourself or to spend more time at the casino.”

He also described the sum stolen as “enormous”.

“It was an amount of money which was squandered on a parasitic enterprise, something in the order of $1.2 million at the Crown Casino,” he said.

Judge MacLean said Kelly continued to try to justify her actions by claiming she had not been properly paid, and because of that he did not accept she was entirely remorseful.

After taking into account her deprived upbringing and her pleas of guilty, Judge MacLean sentenced Kelly to four years and eight months in jail.

She will have to serve two years and eight months before she is eligible for parole — her earliest possible release date will be in April 2025.

The court heard none of the money had been paid back.

Victim says Kelly ‘cost years of her life’

Judge MacLean did make a compensation order and the court heard any of Kelly’s assets will be forfeited.

The business owner, Diana Quan, was in court for the sentencing.

She said the jail term was not enough.

“She took 10 years of my life,” she said.

“It’s been an emotional toll. It’s brought up a lot of emotions.

“It was a hard time for us and it continues to be a hard time, we’ll never recover from this, we’re just a small family business and we work really, really hard.”

Ms Quan also said she did not believe the business would get any of the money back but she was grateful the Judge did not accept Kelly was truly remorseful.

“The picture that she presents to the world is very different from who she actually is.”

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