Pamela Susan Close should have been celebrating her 41st wedding anniversary on Monday.
Instead she spent her first night behind bars.
The former ACTTAB manager who stole more than $1.42 million from the territory’s betting agency was sentenced to five years’ jail on Monday.
Close, 59, pleaded guilty in the ACT Supreme Court to charges of defrauding the territory and obtaining property by deception.
The Macgregor grandmother was due to stand trial in May on 592 charges, but instead admitted the two counts that covered her activities while an ACTTAB employee between November 2001 and April 2010.
The court heard Close worked for the betting agency for 20 years and rose to the position of betting accounts manager.
She spent the second decade of her employment siphoning funds from ACTTAB to feed her gambling addiction.
The court heard an authorised person could briefly reopen the agency’s wagering system after a false start, so punters could continue to bet while the race reorganised.
Close used the glitch to reopen finished races and put trifecta bets on the victors. She would then collect the winnings through fake accounts.
The court heard she once collected about $25,000 from a race in December 2009.
But the decade-long swindle was uncovered after ACTTAB conducted a probe into suspect betting activities in May 2010.
The police were called when it was discovered races were being reopened more often than usual.
A sentencing hearing on Monday heard Close, who has been diagnosed with depression, stole $1,428,355.20 in total.
She told the court she gave some of the money to charity, but gambled and drank the rest.
Close said much of the cash was spent on gaming machines at various clubs around Canberra, but she would also use online betting agencies.
Close tearfully said she was terrified at the prospect of jail.
She said she had shamed her family and jeopardised the livelihoods of her ACTTAB colleagues.
‘‘I think they all think I’m disgusting, and they should,’’ Close said.
Chief Justice Terence Higgins accepted the offender’s contrition.
‘‘I don’t expect you’ll reoffend,’’ the judge said. ‘‘[But] it is necessary ... to impose a period of full-time custody.
‘‘It’s a tragedy for everybody concerned.’’
The judge jailed Close for five years, with one year to be served full-time. Chief Justice Higgins ordered that Close serve a further 18 months as weekend detention, with the remaining time to be suspended.