Salesman stole to maintain lifestyle

A CAR-parts salesman who stole from his former employer for almost a year to “keep up appearances” was ordered to pay back nearly $6000 for parts he used to service his top-of-the-range four-wheel drive.

Andrew James Lowe faced Gympie Magistrates Court on 26 charges of fraud, relating to car parts and tools he dishonestly obtained while working for Madill Motor Group.

Lowe, 24, had been working as parts supervisor when he ran into financial trouble at the end of last year and began taking gear from work to “maintain a lifestyle expected of him” and service his family’s Prado four-wheel drive.

He began stealing in March 2009 and things “escalated out of control” when Lowe got into debt “up to his eyeballs”, defence solicitor Corey Jenkins said.

The courts heard Lowe would make purchase orders with suppliers and raise false stock orders, keeping the extra parts for himself.

The offending behaviour ended when Lowe resigned from his job in April this year. A forensic audit in June confirmed the discrepancies and a complaint was made to police.

Lowe’s Crown Road home in Gympie was searched in July and most of the items recovered except for $5910 worth of parts he used to service his car.

“People who take advantage of employers should be sentenced quite harshly,” police prosecutor Senior Constable Lisa Manns said. She added that the penalty for 26 counts of fraud should reflect the seriousness of the offence which was akin to stealing as a servant.

Mr Jenkins said Lowe, a father of five, had been one of Madill Motor Group’s respected employees, having worked with the company since starting an apprenticeship in 2003.

He said Lowe intended to pay for the goods but it “got away from him”.

“These offences weren’t part of an elaborate scheme... It didn’t start our as deceit, it just got out of control and snowballed,” he said, and told the court Lowe had no criminal history.

Magistrate Maxine Baldwin told Lowe the biggest cost to him has been his integrity.

“You embarked on an ill-fated attempt to maintain a lifestyle your family expected of you,” she said and placed Lowe on probation for two years, with a requirement he complete 100 hours of community service. Lowe was also sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for two years.

Gympie Times

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