By Laura Chung
A former prison inmate convicted of stealing more than $180,000 from a not-for-profit charity she co-founded, some of which she spent on the installation of an airconditioning system in her home, will avoid jail time.
Between 2016 and 2017, Kathlin Armstrong, 53, the then president of the board of management of The Women in Prison Advocacy Network, now the Women's Justice Network (WJN), stole $182,734 from the organisation in a series of transactions ranging from $7818 to $55,604.
On Thursday, Armstrong was sentenced at Sydney Downing Local Court to a two-year and six months' intensive corrective order, six months of which will be spent in home detention. She will serve the remaining time in the community under strict conditions.
In 2007, Armstrong co-founded the network that supports women during and after incarceration.
She was in and out of jail between 1988 and 2003, following heroin addiction and a string of robbery, fraud and break-and-enter offences.
Once described by former NSW attorney-general Brad Hazzard as a "beacon of hope", Armstrong completed a law degree while she was in jail.
But in 2018, WJN's board handed its financial records to police when it uncovered a series of unauthorised payments to Armstrong.
In one example, Armstrong transferred $3200 on January 13, 2017, from WJN's bank account to pay an airconditioning company for the installation of a system in her home. She claimed the payment was for "the office renovations of the... [WJN] office".
She was charged in 2018 with eight counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception and one of using a mobile phone to harass the charity's former chief executive. In October last year, a Sydney court found Armstrong guilty of all charges.
At the time, WJN posted a statement online, which said it accepted the court's decision.
"The NSW justice system has run its course, and WJN accepts the decision that has been handed down," the statement said. "WJN wishes to thank its government and corporate supporters, staff, mentors and mentees for their ongoing support throughout the trial.
"WJN and its Advisory Panel comprising eight women with lived experience of the justice system will continue to work to allow women and girls affected by the justice system to live free from violence, benefit from adequate living standards, be treated with dignity and respect, and be empowered to secure and preserve their individual rights."
With Lucy Cormack