Former daycare director who stole asks judge to keep her criminal record clean

MacLeod appeared for a sentencing hearing Wednesday in P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown. She has pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000 from the Hunter River Early Learning Centre.

Kimberley MacLeod, 45, of Breadalbane has pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000

The judge will hand down his sentencing decision Feb. 5. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The former director of a daycare centre who stole thousands of dollars from it, is asking a judge not to give her a criminal record.

Kimberley MacLeod, 45, of Breadalbane appeared for a sentencing hearing Wednesday in P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown, having already pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000 from the Hunter River Early Learning Centre.

Court heard MacLeod failed to deposit cash payments from parents into the centre's bank account, totalling $16,305.75. 

Defence lawyer Conor Mullin told court Wednesday that MacLeod did not have the proper money skills to handle the centre's finances.

"The theft almost does not constitute criminality," Mullin told court. "It's more like recklessness."

Mullin called on Justice James Gormley to grant MacLeod a conditional discharge. That would keep her out of jail and leave her with no criminal record.

Crown calls for 3-5 months in jail

Mullin argued MacLeod is a married mother of five children and has paid all the money back by re-mortgaging her house. She has since landed a new job, and court heard her new boss wants to keep her on, despite her legal troubles.

Justice Gormley asked Mullin to explain why MacLeod was merely "reckless," based on an agreed statement of facts in which MacLeod confessed to a criminal act.

"It's not complicated," Gormley told Mullin. "The money did not end up in the bank."

Crown prosecutor Chad McQuaid is calling for three to five months in jail.

McQuaid told court that Queens District RCMP found evidence that MacLeod had tried to "hide the paper trail" as she ended her two-year tenure as director of the centre in August 2019.

"Breach of trust is still very prevalent here on Prince Edward Island," McQuaid told court. "It calls for custodial sentences."

MacLeod apologizes, sentencing on Feb. 5

MacLeod's defence lawyer argued sentencing options are limited due to COVID-19, and his client should not suffer as a result. Weekend sentences are not currently available at the provincial jail, and house arrest is not an option for this offence, under the criminal code.

"Sentences should be more lenient, not less," said Mullin.

MacLeod prepared a written statement for court to apologize for what she did. Mullin read it aloud on her behalf.

"I had no desire to steal, I was just trying to exit from a situation that was stressful to me," the statement read in part.

She also wants to apologize in person to staff at the daycare centre.

The judge will hand down a sentencing decision Feb. 5.

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