THE owner of the only legal brothel on the Sunshine Coast fought back tears yesterday as she spoke of the theft of cash from the business last year by her former trusted manager.
To make matters worse for Paris Satine, owner of the Scarlet Harem brothel at Kunda Park, some of the thefts took place while she was undergoing risky surgery for a mysterious back curvature.
Fiona Leigh Perrin, 40, of North Arm, worked as manager of the brothel from Jan
uary to November last year. During that time, she received cash from clients but kept some of the money.
She pleaded guilty in Maroochydore Magistrate's Court to stealing $500.
Ms Satine, however, disputes that amount.
"To be honest with you, it could have caused the business to totally close down," she said outside court.
Despite suffering pain from having two titanium rods and 20 titanium screws inserted down her spine late last year, Ms Satine attended the court yesterday.
She has scars the length of her back and halfway round her waist from the surgery, was initially confined to a wheelchair after her release from hospital in November and had to learn to walk again.
She needed a walker to make it into the courthouse yesterday.
"She took complete advantage of me when I was sick, even stealing from me when I was on the operating table," Ms Satine said of Mrs Perrin's actions.
Mrs Perrin's lawyer Mala Roberts told the court her client was extremely sorry.
"She stole out of desperation as her family was struggling to meet financial obligations," Ms Roberts said.
Magistrate John Hodgins described the crime as a "breach of trust", noting it was "a difficult job and perhaps a difficult employer, but that is no excuse".
He fined her $300 and ordered her to repay the stolen $500. No conviction was recorded.
Ms Roberts also told the court the brothel had withheld $890 in unpaid wages when Mrs Perrin left last year.
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