Assisted by

Youth Legal Service

Leanne* was 19 and had never been in trouble with the police when she was suddenly sacked from her retail job and charged with stealing. The store manager had shown her the CCTV footage that supposedly revealed her putting cash in her pocket, but it clearly showed nothing of the sort! Leanne contacted the Youth Legal Service for help.

The Youth Legal Service Solicitor reviewed the CCTV footage and, just as Leanne claimed, it did not show her pocketing cash at all. 

Store procedure for moving excess cash from the register is for both the duty manager and checkout operator to count the cash and sign a receipt. The cash is then transported to a secure location.  Sometimes staff place the cash in a drawer beneath the register so they can serve waiting customers, preparing it for transportation at a more convenient time.  Though not correct procedure it is commonly done. The footage shows Leanne and the duty manager following store procedure, both signing for a sum of cash. It was alleged that Leanne placed the money in the drawer below the register and five minutes later pocketed the cash. The only evidence for this allegation was the CCTV footage. However, the footage actually shows the manager walking away with a white slip in one hand and a handful of orange and yellow slips in the other, consistent with a receipt and a wad of twenty and fifty dollar notes.

CCTV footage from a few days later again shows a manager and Leanne following store procedure, signing for $1,300 cash. Leanne places the money in the drawer below the register. It was alleged that two minutes later Leanne removed the money from the drawer and put it in her pocket. Again, the only evidence for the allegation was the CCTV footage, which actually shows Leanne putting her mobile phone in her pocket. You can see the screen light up! The last time the drawer is opened during the segment of CCTV footage supplied as evidence, the cash is still visible in the drawer.

Our Solicitor made a submission providing a frame-by-frame description of what the CCTV footage revealed. Eventually the prosecution applied to have the charges withdrawn the Court dismissed the charges. Leanne is looking into making a claim for wrongful dismissal.

* Real names have not been used to respect the confidentiality of clients.