A WARRNAMBOOL man who stole $900 from a money-lending business while he was its manager has been ordered to complete 100 hours of community work.
Justin Bushell, 38, of Fairy Street, Warrnambool pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court this week to one count of obtaining property by deception.
The court heard Bushell was working alone at the Cash Store on Liebig Street on November 14 last year when he created a new loan account in the name of Samantha Jones.
Using false details to create the account, Bushell put a $900 loan into it before attending a nearby ATM and removing the cash.
His crime was not discovered for months and he was finally interviewed by police on June 7, when he admitted creating the account “to do a favour for a friend”.
Bushell’s defence counsel Danielle Svede said her client “owed money to Samantha Jones and split the money with her”.
Police prosecutor Sandra Skilton told the court that police had been unable to locate Ms Jones.
Ms Svede said her client was “deeply ashamed” by his actions and had been spurred by a mixture of mental health issues, alcohol dependency and a gambling addiction. She said Bushell had since signed a self-exclusion document barring himself from businesses where gambling takes place.
The court heard Bushell had no prior offending and an assessment for a community corrections order found he was “a low risk of re-offending”.
Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt said there was “not a great deal of evidence that at the time of this decision to defraud your employer that you were struggling with gambling and alcohol addictions and mental health issues” but he was “required to take them into account”. “This is a serious matter, not only because of the amount of money involved, but because of the dishonesty involved and the breach of trust,” Mr Klestadt said.
“You were employed by the victim in this case and they were entitled to trust you to behave honestly in respect to their property. This type of offending is regarded as more serious than someone who succumbs to temptation.”
Bushell was sentenced to 100 hours of community work over the next 12 months, ordered to pay $914.95 in restitution and seek treatment for his addiction and mental health issues.