THE VICTIMS of a Porthtowan thief who stole thousands of pounds from their small business have said crime does pay – after she was released from prison just four months into her 16-month sentence.
Natalie Viljoen, 35, of Sandy Cove, stole £17,149.31 from Porthtowan Village Stores while she was working there as a shop assistant and spent it lavishly buying clothes and drinks and even using some of the cash she pilfered to buy a meal for her bosses Brian and Linda Yates.
The Yates were at Truro Crown Court in July when she was sentenced to 16 months in jail but she has only spent a quarter of that time in custody.
That day was the result of an extensive investigation by the couple and by police after they became suspicious and set up CCTV over the till last November.
When they viewed the footage, it became obvious that their employee, who had also become a friend, was using complicated void till functions to cover up the sums of cash she was pocketing.
Now Viljoen has been released – a situation which has devastated Mrs Yates all over again.
Mrs Yates, who was diagnosed with breast cancer between January 24 and November 30, 2012 when Viljoen was taking the money, said: “How can it be right that she is out after four months?
“The judge stipulated she was to serve eight months in prison and eight months out on licence and she has only served four months in prison.
“Is it any wonder why there is crime in this country? “Crime does pay. It took us longer than four months to get the evidence together to get her prosecuted … we have not seen a penny of recompense.
“Who was the one who got punished? Not her.”
Mrs Yates previously told how betrayed she had felt by Viljoen who she believed was a friend.
She said: “I went away for the weekend to inform my daughter of the cancer. I was very upset and I expressed my feelings to Natalie and she told me that she would be thinking of me.
“I feel sick to my stomach that a large number of void transactions were done that weekend.”
Spokeswoman for the Probation Service, Jacquie Felix-Mitchell said Viljoen was released on December 2 on Home Detention Curfew (HDC).
She said: “People who are subject to a HDC have to adhere to strict and exacting curfew times.
“They must also observe particular licence conditions, which include for example, not entering particular premises or areas, and not making contact with certain individuals.”
Ms Felix-Mitchell said the HDC would end on March 31 next year after eight months or the original sentence and that after this Viljoen will have to continue to observe her licence conditions and be supervised by Probation until the end of 16 months.
She said: “Any breach of the conditions could mean a return to court for additional sentencing.”
Separate confiscation hearings are on-going against Viljoen to try to recover the money.