A magistrate has warned a 19-year-old man who took more than $5,000 from Kmart by pocketing refunds, that he could have faced a suspended jail sentence had he not been so forthright with police.

Appearing at the Cleveland Magistrates Court yesterday Aaron Jake Cowell pleaded guilty to one count of fraud - dishonest application of property of another by employee.

The court heard Birkdale man Cowell took $5411.34 from Kmart Capalaba between January 18 - August 10 in a "naive" scheme that included refunding purchases directly onto his personal credit card.

The court was told an informer noticed a series of suspicious transactions on August 20 which included the input of a co-accused previously dealt with for the theft by the court.

Aaron Cowell. Picture: Facebook.
Aaron Cowell. Picture: Facebook.

A police prosecutor said the defendant, who had worked at Kmart for four years, admitted to taking the funds over the six-month period to fund a drug and alcohol addiction and had shown remorse for his offending.

Defence solicitor Tania Lacy said Cowell lived with his parents and had been going through a challenging time while consuming Xanax, cannabis, wine and vodka.

Ms Lacy said he had since cut back on his consumption of alcohol, started seeing a psychologist and had an appointment pending with a psychiatrist.

Cowell, the defence solicitor said, took full responsibility for his offending and now works in telemarketing after being terminated from Kmart.

Magistrate Deborah Vasta acknowledged Cowell's early plea and told the court had he not been so honest with police a more serious sentence would have been likely.

The magistrate also implored the young man to tell his parents of the fraud, which he had yet to do, and warned him that defrauding large companies nevertheless impacts mum and dad investors who are dependent on their success.

Cowell was sentenced to 18 months' probation and ordered to complete 60 hours of community service.

A conviction was not recorded.

Originally published as Teen snared in six-month Kmart stealing scheme