A Mackay man was jailed for two years, wholly suspended, for fraud against a former employer.
A Mackay man was jailed for two years, wholly suspended, for fraud against a former employer.

Mackay tradie handed prison term over ‘greedy’ side hustle

A Mackay man caught out "double dipping" at work avoided going to jail after a magistrate found there were "exceptional features" to the case.

Thomas Bezuidenhout was working as a full-time fire technician for Chubb Fire and Safety Pty Ltd when he began what was meant to be a side hustle on his days off.

Mackay Magistrates Court heard he registered a business under his own name and began working for Moranbah North Mine.

Soon the 38 year old was invoicing for jobs he had completed during his work hours.

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"At that point in time you were fully employed by Chubb and you were receiving an income from them," Magistrate Bronwyn Hartigan said.

"In addition you were being provided with accommodation, tools and a vehicle."

The court heard the jobs he completed for Moranbah North Mine should have gone through his employer - instead he invoiced them directly earning an extra $27,024.50 over 10 months.

It was described as "double dipping" as prosecutor Chelsea Pearson pushed for a two-year jail term.

A man pleaded guilty in Mackay Magistrates Court to fraud over “double dipping” his employer.
A man pleaded guilty in Mackay Magistrates Court to fraud over “double dipping” his employer.

Bezuidenhout pleaded guilty to fraud - dishonest application of property of another by an employee, between September 2019 and July 2020.

Defence lawyer Geoff Govey, of Taylors Solicitors, described it as "slightly unusual offending".

Mr Govey said it was not as if his client had been "doing it all the time during his office hours".

Bezuidenhout had been completing the allocated work for his employer and then doing other jobs "over and above".

The court heard he had mental health issues, which Ms Hartigan said added to the mix of mitigating factors "but don't reduce his culpability".

"The real focus for this kind of fraud for him was to get as much money as he could to settle his financial debts, which is significant," Ms Hartigan said.

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The court heard he had a $160,000 ATO bill, had fallen victim to a scam and had to pay a financial settlement to a previous partner.

"Greed seems to have taken over and he's realised he could do this work during work hours and make more money," Ms Hartigan said.

"I have decided there are exceptional features to your case that justify your sentence being wholly suspended."

He was jailed for two years, wholly suspended for five years, and ordered to pay the $27,024.50 immediately.

A conviction was recorded.



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