A woman who took her young children to a GP stole the doctor's handbag, and used her cash card to withdraw $450.
Anahera Watene, 23, appeared in Napier District Court yesterday, where she pleaded guilty to a charge of theft and three charges of dishonestly using a document.
She went to Levin's Horowhenua Community Practice in April with her three children to get a doctor to look at a sore on her son's knee.
During the consultation, the doctor had to leave her room for a short time to get medication. While she was out of the room, Watene took the doctor's handbag and hid it in her clothing.
At the end of the consultation, she left with her children, went to the house she was staying in, went through the handbag and removed a bank card.
She went to a dairy and used the card, checked the balance of an account and withdrew $50 cash. She then went to an ATM in Levin and withdrew $400.
The police summary of facts did not say how she knew the Pin.
She then returned to the house and burnt the handbag and its contents.
When spoken to by police, Watene said she just wanted the money to feed her children and to travel back to her home in Napier.
Her lawyer, Scott Jefferson, said the offending was "particularly mean-spirited" given that the doctor was trying to help Watene.
The beneficiary was remorseful. Although in a financial bind at the time, that "really was no excuse", Mr Jefferson said.
During his submission, Watene interrupted and said: "Excuse me, Scott. I didn't steal money for my kids. Where we were staying there were seven other kids."
Judge Evangelos Thomas agreed the offending had been mean-spirited and noted Watene's children had most probably witnessed her stealing the handbag.
She was sentenced to 60 hours' community work and ordered to pay reparation of $801 for the cash, the handbag and its contents.
A staff member at the health practice said the doctor was a locum from overseas, who had since returned home.
- The Dominion Post