Cairns housing slum boss jailed
THE operator of the former notorious Plaza Palms housing slum at Manunda has been sentenced to two years in jail after being prosecuted by the Office of Fair Trading.
An extensive OFT investigation led to Stuart James Wright, principal licensee of Three Sista's Pty Ltd, pleading guilty to 437 offences connected with the management of the property.
Convicted and sentenced in Cairns Magistrates Court, Wright is required to serve six months in prison and will be eligible for parole in late March 2021.
He has been banned for life from working in the real estate industry.
Three Sista's Pty Ltd ran the Plaza Palms Resort as a crisis and transitional accommodation centre. Authorities closed the troubled property in May this year.
The court heard Wright made 406 unauthorised transfers from the trust account between January 1, 2017, and March 23, 2018, totalling $292,393.
Although the money was supposed to be held in trust, it was used for a number of other purposes including Wright's personal electricity bills, rental of kitchen equipment and repayments of a business loan.
The court also heard that Wright told unit owners in December 2017 that the front door locks for each unit needed to be replaced and charged them $143 per unit.
No payment was made to a locksmith and the locks were not changed. He did not repay the money despite being ordered to by OFT.
Bond amounts totalling $26,150.00 were received and Wright dishonestly converted those funds to use himself and for his business.
In sentencing, Magistrate Joe Pinder said the nature of Wright's offending was lengthy, persistent and against the most vulnerable members of the community and, that he continued to offend despite previous prosecutions.