A WODONGA man who stole more than $31,000 from a pensioner friend to support a gambling addiction was yesterday given a 10-month suspended jail sentence.
Magistrate Tony Murray said he took into consideration Philip Leonard Butt’s lack of previous criminal offences, his obvious remorse and the fact much of the money had been repaid.
Butt, 57, of Lowanna Street, appeared in Albury Local Court for sentencing on 23 charges of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
“They are serious when viewed individually, but more serious when viewed cumulatively,” Mr Murray said.
“Your behaviour since the detection of the matters is commendable.”
Mr Murray said if Butt was jailed, the repayment scheme to the victim would stop.
Solicitor Andrea MacDonald said Butt had repaid $24,000 to the victim before he was arrested and charged.
Ms MacDonald said Butt, a disability pensioner, sold a house at Gosford for $200,000 before moving to Albury, but admitted the money “disappeared in a whirlwind of betting” on horse races.
The court had previously been told in police facts that Butt had been allowed access to a friend’s bank account and personal identification number.
Butt and the victim met at a retirement village in North Albury and became friendly.
The victim, who had poor health, received regularly visits from Butt, who did jobs for him and cooked some meals.
Butt was asked to buy items for the victim who was initially driven to shops and provided his ATM card and PIN number.
The victim stayed in the car most of the time, but as they became more friendly he stopped going because of further health issues.
The account was set up so regular interest payments from another bank were transferred every six months and the fortnightly pension payment went in as well.
Butt went to the Northside Hotel on April 24, 2012, when the first offence was committed.
He withdrew $200, which was bet on horse races through the TAB.
The final offence happened on October 26 when Butt withdrew $1000 which he bet at the North Albury Sports Club on horse races.
Police spoke to him about the issue on March 5 this year and he admitted the thefts when interviewed.
Mr Murray made an order for the outstanding debt of $7246.50 be paid to the victim.