Fashion designer jailed after 'fake breast grab story'
A Perth fashion designer who stole almost $163,000 from her former employer has been jailed for two years and eight months.
Chaynika Sethi, 35, worked part time for a decade as a practice manager at a Maylands physiotherapy clinic while building up her fashion label and was trusted with paying expenses and distributing wages.
But after eight years of service, the mother of two plundered the clinic's main transaction account, transferring cash into her own over a 21-month period.
Sethi claimed at her recent District Court of WA trial she didn't steal the $162,805, saying it was put into her bank account by business owner Arran McDiven as "hush money" for squeezing her breast during a physiotherapy session.
Prosecutor Sarah Kavanagh said the fabrication of such a serious allegation gave the community reason not to believe claims of sexual assault by other people.
Sethi had maxed out credits cards, personal loans and a mortgage, and the stolen cash was partly used to promote her own business aspirations.
She made no attempt to moderate her own spending or sell items of value, going on overseas trips and paying for a monthly gardener, Ms Kavanagh said.
Mr McDiven, on the other hand, had to sell a newly built house, move into a rental property and shift his children from private to public school.
When he told her about his financial stress, she looked shocked then paid some money back by using her own cash for office bills but stole from him again the following month.
The court heard that when Mr McDiven finally noticed an unusual transaction, he confronted Sethi and she agreed to pay back the cash, mainly through her father in India, so he kept her on staff.
Five weeks later, when she had had reimbursed almost $100,000 - but failed to get a loan to pay back the rest - he suggested she sell her house and she responded angrily, threatening to ruin his reputation.
Mr McDiven then fired her.
"You left him without any recourse but to report the matter to police," Judge Christopher Stevenson said.
After the jury found Sethi guilty of 98 counts of stealing as a servant, her then-defence counsel Sean O'Sullivan secured bail for her and said she would repay Mr McDiven in the meantime.
The court heard on Friday the outstanding money had not been paid back.
Sethi must serve half her sentence before she will be eligible for parole.
© AAP 2019