The former night manager of a local hotel told a Barrie judge he was unstable when he took $50,000 from his employer and he wants to make it up.
“I am deeply, deeply regretful for what has happened,” an emotional Kieren Amero said during a remote Ontario Court of Justice hearing Monday. “I was not in my right frame of mind.
“I really would like to make amends for this. ... I wish I had never done it in the first place," he added.
The 27-year-old man pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000 for making 251 fraudulent transactions through the Barrie Comfort Inn & Suites' debit machine, taking a total of $50,368.38.
Justice Phil Brissette accepted a joint submission by the Crown and defence for a six-month conditional sentence to be served at home. His conditions include paying that money back to the hotel's owners.
“It’s a very early guilty plea in light of the number of crushing pressures on the criminal justice system right now,” said Crown attorney Sarah Sullivan.
His lawyer, David Wilcox, said Amero had been diagnosed with Aspergers, anxiety and depression, and was dealing with an adjustment in his medications shortly before transferring the money. His grandmother had noticed a change in his behaviour, Wilcox added.
“He was suffering from a significant mental illness at the time he committed this very serious criminal offence,” said Wilcox. “He told me… he was contemplating suicide at the time.”
After being confronted with the theft, he sought help from the hospital where Wilcox said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Amero is on a disability pension and lives with, he added, and cares for his grandmother who suffers from ill health. Were it not for the help of her grandson, Wilcox told the court referring to a letter from her, she would be in a long-term care facility.
In addition to the six-month conditional sentence, which includes allowances for him to leave for up to four hours three times per week to access “the necessities of life," get vaccinated and attend appointments, there is also a stand-alone restitution order for $50,368.38 to the hotel. He was also handed 12 months of probation.
“Usually, these kinds of offences often result in jail,” said Justice Brissette, adding the conditional sentence is appropriate given the lack of a criminal record and the early guilty plea.
Exactly what happened to the money was not addressed by the court.