Conman stung a sick ‘mate’

A WODONGA man with a serious gambling problem stole more than $31,000 from a pensioner friend when allowed access to his bank account and personal identification number.

But Philip Leonard Butt has repaid $22,000 after admitting to police that he has gambled away money from the sale of his house and lives from week to week financially.

Butt, 57, of Lowanna Street, pleaded guilty yesterday in Albury Local Court to 23 charges of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

Magistrate Tony Murray ordered a pre-sentence report and told Butt: “This is a really serious breach of trust over a period of time on a vulnerable person”.

The sentencing of Butt has been adjourned until July 15.

The court was told in tendered facts that Butt and the victim met at a retirement village in North Albury and became friendly.

Butt would regularly visit the victim, did jobs for him and cooked some meals.

The victim had poor health with problems walking and asked Butt to buy items for him.

Initially Butt drove him to shop and he provided his ATM card along with the personal identification number to pay for items.

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.

When the account ran low, the victim transferred money into the ATM account, usually in $10,000 lots.

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 was bet at the North Albury Sports Club on horse races.

Police spoke to him on March 5 this year and he admitted the thefts when interviewed.

He said his gambling addiction had left him without any assets apart from his car.

Mr Murray was told Butt still had to repay $9246.50 which includes bank fees.