NANAIMO — A former figure skating coach with no prior run-ins with the law admitted to ripping off $10,500 from a Parksville hardware store in a longstanding scam.
Kaitlin Rahne Belix, 26, received a conditional discharge and 18-months probation from a provincial court judge in Nanaimo Wednesday.
The once valued and trusted employee's criminal record will be erased if she obeys her court-ordered conditions over the next year-and-a-half.
Belix pleaded guilty to a charge of theft over $5,000 in relation to 97 incidents of fake returns at Albertsons Home Centre over an eight-month period in 2017.
During an agreed statement of facts, Crown prosecutor Barbara Breault outlined the crimes, which saw Belix refund herself for items previously sold from the store.
Belix credited the goods to three different bank cards, while the items were not returned to the south Parksville business.
She was fired in the store in October 2017 in the presence of an Oceanside RCMP officer after a store manager noticed “funny returns.”
Belix denied any wrongdoing in a formal statement to police the following day but entered a guilty plea at the Nanaimo courthouse earlier this year.
A pre-sentence report stated Belix did not know why she continually scammed her employer of four-and-a-half years.
Belix told a psychologist she was upset a customer who allegedly sexually assaulted her in 2016 was allowed to continually return to the store.
Defence lawyer Chris Churchill said Belix dealt with anxiety and depression.
Belix's severe personal issues included a formal PTSD diagnoses, which a psychologist theorized could have led to her poor decision-making with the absence of any other explanation.
Churchill said her client's actions cost her dearly.
“She has enjoyed teaching children's skating for many years. She hasn't been able to do that anymore," Churchill said. "In fact she was offered a job with Disney On Ice and she was not able to take that job.”
Churchill said a deeply ashamed Belix worked two jobs to pay her former employer back.
He said Belix completed numerous mental health programs through Island Health and intends to continue additional self-care.
Judge Ron Lamperson said he was disturbed by the breach of trust and extended period of the offences.
However, Lamperson said her guilty plea, lack of criminal record and paying full restitution amounted to exceptional circumstances.
“I hope you benefit from the further counselling over time to try and give you a better understanding of yourself and perhaps what caused this and how to ensure something like this never happens again,” Judge Lamperson said.
Belix sat silently during her lengthy sentencing hearing while her emotional mother sat nearby in the gallery.
In addressing court, Belix said she is incredibly sorry and focused on improving her thoughts and actions.
“There is a lot to be said for the amount of pain and stress I've caused everyone involved and I will forever live in a way that people no longer have to question me again,” Belix said.
Her probation conditions include 60-hours of community work service and completing any counselling programs directed by her probation officer.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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