Ararat woman pleads guilty to credit card fraud targeting Stawell hardware and sporting goods stores.

A 23-year-old woman who joined her boyfriend on an alleged credit card-skimming scheme targeting businesses in Bacchus Marsh, Ballarat and Stawell has avoided an immediate jail sentence.

Mikaela Godwin pleaded guilty to 30 charges at the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday after initially contesting the offences, which included drug and obtaining property by deception charges.

The court was told Godwin and her co-accused Jordan Davis, 27, both of Ararat, allegedly went to a number of stores between September and November to fraudulently purchase items.

Godwin was present at the stores when Davis, who is expected to plead guilty to his charges in Melbourne in April, allegedly used a mobile telephone to obtain false credit card numbers and purchase the items.

The pair attended Ballarat’s Hewitt and Whitty, Bacchus Marsh Farm Supplies, Stawell Bi-Rite and Stawell Sportspower where purchases of $2800, $2500 and $800 were made.

Days after the alleged purchases, banks contacted the stores to notify them the transactions had failed.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Aimee Heal said police executed a search warrant at the couple’s unit where a large amount of unopened items were located, including barbecues, washing machines and footwear.

She said the vehicles they drove to the stores were rented under Godwin’s name from car rentals in Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh.

Defence barrister Brett O'Sullivan said his client was pregnant when she was arrested on December 21 and was now a mother to a seven-week-old baby.

He said she had completed a number of courses while in custody, including educational and parenting courses.

“Drugs have been an issue in the past but she is not using at all now,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

Godwin, who was supported in court by a friend, was sentenced to 48 days’ jail, which she has already served, and an 18-month community corrections order with 150 hours of unpaid community work.

Magistrate Franz Holzer told Godwin her offending was a concerning pattern of behaviour.

“If I had to take a punt, I would not be putting money on you because I think you have a real possibility to continue to offend. But you have a reason not to,” said Mr Holzer, referring to her baby.

If she did not plead guilty, she would have received eight months’ jail.