Financial stress leads businessman to commit $34K fraud
A BUNDABERG business owner has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for trying to defraud his insurance company of more than $34,000.
David John Hart, 51, pleaded guilty to six charges in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court on Tuesday including four counts of forgery and uttering and two counts of attempted fraud.
The charges come after Hart forged insurance forms in relation to a bob cat hire for $5390 and attempted to lodge two further claims of $11,534.60 and $18,002.60 respectively.
The court heard Hart's criminal history dated back to the 90s and that he had been a hard worker all his life.
Defence lawyer Callan Cassidy said his client, like many other Bundaberg residents, was facing financial and family stresses when he forged the invoices and lodged them with his insurance company.
He added that in addition to paying off the mortgage on his home and expenses related to his business lease, Hart was also going through a rough time personally when the fraud occurred.
He said his client's wife had been in Brisbane at the time, taking care of her ill mother.
The father of two has owned his own concreting business for more than 15 years, where he employs four staff including his son.
Mr Cassidy told Magistrate Terry Duroux if his client were to be incarcerated, that business would go broke and people would be out of their jobs.
He added that Hart was a valuable contributor to the community and was regularly involved with local surf lifesaving and rugby league clubs and indigenous communities.
Magistrate Duroux told Hart he understood there had been a fair bit on his mind when he committed the counts of fraud but that his circumstances did not excuse his behaviour. "Clear messages must be sent," he said.
He sentenced him to 12 months in prison wholly suspended for three years.