The woman embroiled in a texting saga with former Australian Test cricket captain Tim Paine has avoided jail after stealing from one-time employer Cricket Tasmania, but she will spend time in home detention.
Renee Ferguson, 49, previously pleaded guilty to stealing $5600 worth of cash and memberships from the sporting body in 2017 when she worked as a receptionist.
Renee Ferguson arrives at the Hobart Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.Credit:AAP
She appeared on Wednesday in Hobart Magistrates’ Court, where she was sentenced to eight months’ home detention.
Chief Magistrate Catherine Geason decided against activating a 12-month suspended jail sentence that had been hanging over Ferguson at the time of the offending.
Ferguson was handed the suspended sentence about eight weeks before she stole from Cricket Tasmania, after being convicted of taking $30,000 from a previous employer.
It was suspended on the condition she did not commit another offence punishable by prison for two years.
Geason said it would have been “unjust” to activate the suspended sentence and send Ferguson to jail.
She instead opted for a substituted sentence for the thefts against Cricket Tasmania and Ferguson’s previous employer.
She said home detention, to be served in Tasmania, would be particularly onerous because it was away from Ferguson’s current residence in Victoria.
Ferguson was thrust into the national spotlight in late 2021 when it was revealed Paine had sent her explicit text messages years earlier.
Tim Paine quit as Test captain after the scandal in 2021.Credit:Nine News
Geason said media attention had forced Ferguson to move interstate to avoid humiliation and shame.
She described Ferguson’s mental health at the time of the offending as poor.
“You have addressed your mental health issues … and continued to move forward and put this offending behind you,” Geason said.
Ferguson, who will be electronically monitored during home detention, earlier pleaded guilty to 10 counts of stealing relating to $4556 she took while working at Bellerive Oval.
She also pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage for taking a $339 Hobart Hurricanes family membership and $705 Cricket Tasmania junior and platinum membership.
The court was told she stole from Cricket Tasmania to essentially punish the organisation after she raised concerns about a toxic work environment that were not addressed.
Ferguson, who worked at Cricket Tasmania from August 2015 to December 2017, pocketed the money by recording cash transactions as eftpos.
Discrepancies in Cricket Tasmania’s books were noticed in December 2017, prompting further audits.
Her lawyer, Marcia Edwards, said Ferguson apologised to Cricket Tasmania and accepted she breached her position of trust.
Cricket Tasmania was not aware of Ferguson’s earlier stealing, which was done to meet a shortfall in pay, the court was told.
She had positive references from the manager of a motor inn where she now works, as well as family and friends.
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