Ex-Jurong Bird Park employee gets four months' jail for misappropriating $62,000

Jaysheen James, 24, who oversaw ticketing counter staff at Jurong Bird Park, had misappropriated $61,887 which was part of the daily sales proceeds.
Jaysheen James, 24, who oversaw ticketing counter staff at Jurong Bird Park, had misappropriated $61,887 which was part of the daily sales proceeds. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A former operation executive at Jurong Bird Park was sentenced to four months' jail on Tuesday (Oct 25) for misappropriating $61,887 from the company.

Jaysheen James, 24, pleaded guilty to committing criminal breach of trust of the amount which was part of the daily sales proceeds collected by Jurong Bird Park between Jan 5 and Aug 12, 2015. Full restitution has been made.

A district court heard that she had to oversee the ticketing counter staff, whose job was to collect cash from visitors who bought tickets to Jurong Bird Park. She was also responsible for submitting daily sales reports to the finance cashier.

She could also perform service recoveries. Through a service recovery, she could void a transaction performed by the ticketing counter staff, and issue cash refunds to visitors.

Service recoveries would ordinarily be performed when a visitor was dissatisfied with the service provided by the company.

Jaysheen was supposed to get every service recovery approved by her shift manager. Once the service recovery was approved, she had the authority to open a cash register and retrieve the cash through which a refund would be issued, or direct ticketing counter staff to retrieve the cash and hand it to her.

Between Jan 5 and Aug 12 last year, she misappropriated $61,887 from the daily sales proceeds collected by putting up false service recoveries and collecting cash from the cash registers at the ticketing counters, without the service recoveries having been approved by a shift manager.

She used the money for her personal expenses.

Her lawyer N. Sudha Nair said in mitigation that her client was awarded a silver award by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore in 2012 as a tour guide at the bird park.

Counsel said her client's mother, a single parent, had been the sole breadwinner of the family for 17 years before she stopped working due to her poor health in September 2015.

Jaysheen used the misappropriated money to pay the Housing Board mortgage instalments, the family's household expenses, her brother's university fees, her diploma fees and her mother's monthly medical bills. She also hired a maid to assist her mother.

"All these various stressors caused Jaysheen to succumb to the temptation of appropriating the money from her employer to alleviate the financial insecurity that troubled her family," said the lawyer.

Ms Nair said Jaysheen is very remorseful and regrets that she had broken the trust her employer had in her,

Jaysheen, who now works part-time, was allowed to defer sentence until Nov 1. She could have been jailed for up to seven years and/or fined for criminal breach of trust.