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September 30, 2003

DEAF Olympics athlete admits theft

From:, Australia - Sept 30, 2003

By Ainsley Pavey

A DEAF Olympics hopeful has been put on probation for fleecing thousands of dollars from a Queensland sporting organisation.

Nicole Anne Sheppard, 32, who hopes to gain selection next month for the Deaf Olympics in Melbourne in January 2005, faced a Brisbane court today over the theft.

The Queensland representative basketballer confessed to stealing more than $4,000 while treasurer of Deaf Sports and Recreation of Queensland.

She pleaded guilty in Brisbane's Magistrates Court to one count of stealing as a servant between June 1 and December 30 last year.

The theft was uncovered in an audit.

Sheppard, a full-time federal immigration department clerk, appeared in court with the assistance of an interpreter.

Brisbane Magistrate Bill McKay placed Sheppard on 18 months probation and ordered her pay back the $4112 she stole from the club.

He told her she had taken from an organisation set up to help her.

"It is a rather serious offence," Magistrate McKay said.

"It's an organisation which you rely on for recreation."

Defence lawyer Fiona Graham said Sheppard was in training for the Olympic selection process next month.

Ms Graham said Sheppard had no recollection of how she spent the money but was absolutely mortified by her behaviour.

She told the court Sheppard was born profoundly deaf but lived alone.

Sheppard had offered to repay the money after police were called in, Ms Graham said.

"Her parents don't know she is here," she told the court.

"Whenever she thinks about it, she feels sick in the stomach."

Copyright 2003 News Limited.