Funeral director's 'unforgivable' theft from grieving family

A FUNERAL director who stole $200 in cash from a grieving family during a funeral has been fined $1000.

Kathryn Mary Fitzallen, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of stealing in Launceston Magistrates Court yesterday.

Fitzallen was conducting a funeral for Finney Funeral Services on November 26 last year.

During the service, Fitzallen took a donation box that had been put out for guests to make donations to the grieving family in lieu of flowers to the kitchen area just out of view of CCTV cameras.

She opened the box and took four $50 notes and put them in her pocket before returning the box and moving to the bar to serve drinks.

At the end of the funeral service, when the donations were presented to the family who alerted staff that eight $50 notes had been folded and placed in the box, but only four remained.

The business owner checked the CCTV cameras and saw Fitzallen had taken the box to another area and then put something in her pocket.

The single mother-of-two told police in an interview that she was struggling financially.

She lost her job as a result of the theft.

She sat in court yesterday with her head down looking at the ground.

Magistrate Simon Brown said Fitzallen's actions were a "very cynical episode".

"What you did on this occasion was really quite unforgivable," he said.

"You were effectively taking money away from the grieving family of the deceased."

Magistrate Brown said the sentence he imposed needed to make it "abundantly clear that this behaviour will not only cost you your employment" but is also frowned upon by the general public.

Fitzallen told the magistrate she was formerly a high school chaplain, she had worked in the social welfare sector and she was currently unemployed and looking for work.

Magistrate Brown said he would take into account Fitzallen's guilty plea, that she had lost her job and that the offence was out of character when sentencing her.

He convicted and fined Fitzallen $1000.

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