A former Commonwealth bank employee who stole almost $250,000 from wealthy retirees, including author Thomas Keneally, is likely to be sentenced to at least 12 months of home detention.
Karen Myhanh Chau, 39, pleaded guilty in August to six counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.
In a sentencing her on Friday, Deputy Chief Magistrate Jane Mottley gave her a total term of 18 months' imprisonment with a non-parole period of one year.
However, she ordered Chau to be assessed for home detention.
Chau's barrister Sheridan Goodwin told the Downing Centre Local Court earlier on Friday the former banker was receiving regular treatment for a gambling addiction.
"All the money she made was spent on gambling," Ms Goodwin said.
Chau's judgment had been impaired by her addiction and it had "compromised her ability to make reasonable judgments", she said.
The court has heard that Chau, working as a private banker in Sydney's CBD, transferred money in 72 transactions from six clients' accounts into her own ANZ account between October 2010 and January this year, court documents show.
Thomas and Judith Keneally lost $71,300 but the bank replaced it before they informed the Manly couple last year.
"In the main she set up standing orders for the repeated transfers from the various accounts ... which led to the large amounts inevitably totalling up," Ms Goodwin said.
The court heard Chau's parents had previously re-mortgaged their home to help their daughter out of financial problems when she was threatened by a debt collector.
Ms Goodwin said Chau had come to Australia as a refugee and had since completed two degrees and raised funds for charities, including the Red Cross.
"In essence she has never done anything wrong ... except in relation to her gambling," Ms Goodwin said.
"She has had a somewhat spectacular fall from grace."
Magistrate Mottley said she was of the view that there were "special circumstances" relating to Chau's medical condition but there was a "real need for a message of general deterrence for this type of offence".
She adjourned the matter until November 28 to give her full reasons and to hear about Chau's suitability for home detention.
The Commonwealth Bank previously said in a statement that it had refunded all money stolen to its clients.
Ms Goodwin said Chau had been sued by the bank and has filed a notice of bankruptcy.
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