An office key kept under a tin, a Zip disc full of stolen information and a former staff member arrested by 10 police officers in a Surry Hills sting -“ not a normal day at the office of Lesbians On The Loose.

A spat between management and staff of Australia’s biggest lesbian magazine ended up in court this week, after former advertising account manager Leanne Kehoe and her partner Sarah Cooper pleaded guilty to stealing a Zip disc full of information and demanding $2,000 payment for its return.

Kehoe and Cooper’s lawyer Michael Bowe told the court Kehoe was working for LOTL 25 hours per week. For this, she received $300 each week and a monthly commission on advertising revenue.

Kehoe quit working for the magazine in January. When she handed in her notice, LOTL publisher Silke Bader refused to pay her about $3,000 commission, Bowe told the court.

To try and get some of it back, Kehoe and Cooper went to the magazine’s office -“ opening the door with a key they knew was stuck under a tin -“ and moved up to $35,000 worth of advertising files on a computer into the Trash folder. First, they copied the data onto a Zip disc.

The pair contacted Bader and arranged to meet at 6pm at the Madison Hotel in Devonshire St, Surry Hills, where they said they would hand the disc back for $2,000.

When they arrived, they were met by 10 police officers and charged with demanding property with menaces with intent to steal and unauthorised modification of data with intent to cause impairment.

Bowe pleaded for minimal sentences for Kehoe and Cooper, calling their crime absolutely at the bottom end. Their actions, he said, were motivated by a need to return home to the UK as soon as possible to attend to a sick relative.

The two items [in the computer’s trash bin] were not lost permanently, and were not intended to be lost permanently.

Kehoe and Cooper were both sentenced to 12-month good behaviour bonds. They were due to fly back to the UK today.

LOTL publisher Silke Bader declined to comment on the case.

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