Tasmanian man uses employer's fuel card to unlawfully buy more than $20k of petrol

Tasmanian man uses employer's fuel card to unlawfully buy more than $20k of petrol

By abc.net.au
Tuesday 06/06/2023
Justice Jago said the crime was a "brazen manipulation of your employer's system for your own financial gain".(ABC News)

A Tasmanian man who used company money to purchase more than $24,000 worth of fuel, which he used to fill up his own cars and onsold to friends, has avoided jail time.

Damian John Barrett, 38, was convicted in the Supreme Court in Burnie last week of six counts of fraud, after he admitted to unlawfully using his employer's fuel card to purchase $24, 208.06 worth of diesel and petrol.

In her judgement, Justice Tamara Jago wrote that Barrett's offending began after his wife suddenly left the marriage, taking their young children with her.

"This caused great upheaval and upset for you," Justice Jago noted.

"You also discovered that she had left you with substantial debts."

Over a period of six months, between May and November 2021, Barrett used Roadways Pty Ltd's fuel card to fill up his two personal vehicles.

He later admitted to police that he also used the fuel card to fill 44 gallon drums with fuel and onsell them to his friends.

In total, he unlawfully purchased 15,231.50 litres.

The court heard that in November 2021, "a number of irregular fuel transactions were detected" on a Caltex fuel card. CCTV footage revealed that Barrett was the one responsible.

Just over a year later, his employment was terminated "as a consequence of unrelated disciplinary matters".

When he was spoken to about a number of the fuel transactions, Barrett admitted he had taken "a substantial quantity of fuel".

He made full admissions when he was interviewed by police this year and later entered an early plea of guilty.

In sentencing, Justice Jago took that into account and said she accepted that he was remorseful and had enquiries about taking a personal loan to repay the company.

But she described his conduct as unquestionably dishonest.

"[This was] a brazen manipulation of your employer's system for your own financial gain," she wrote.

"The conduct is serious because it involves a breach of trust. Abuse of trust by employees towards their employers is unfortunately not all that uncommon."

Justice Jago wrote that "a period of imprisonment is necessary" but should be suspended.

"[This is] to give you the opportunity to prove that the recent changes in your life have brought about stability and there will not be a repeat of this type of behaviour," she said.

Barrett was sentenced to seven months in prison, wholly suspended, for a period of two years.

Story by Lucy MacDonald

Original story link https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-06/tasmanian-man-guilty-company-fuel-card-purchase/102444124

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