Bankrupt businessman jailed over 2011 Lockyer flood fraud
THE deadly 2011 deluge that swept down the Lockyer Valley on its destructive flood path led to a massive clean-up, road repairs and rebuilding.
Millions of dollars of Commonwealth national disaster relief recovery funds was made available to get the vital infrastructure rebuilding work done quickly. And on the scene was Paul Joseph Morrison.
Despite being a discharged bankrupt, Morrison ran a company trading as Kildare Pastoral Co. Morrison was its director and became part of an alliance - KLM - that was engaged by Lockyer Regional Valley Council to oversee and pay sub-contractors for the work done.
It was then to reclaim the money paid out from the council.
Some years after the flood event Morrison was charged with allegedly providing false invoices to the council for work done but in fact not paid for.
Nearly eight years on from the floods and Morrison has been jailed for his offences - a fraud involving $71,448.25.
However, the Crown prosecution case and sentencing judge accepted that his offending was not done for personal enrichment.
Morrison, 46, pleaded guilty in the District Court at Ipswich to one count of fraud, dishonestly inducing delivery of property with a value over $30,000; and eight charges of making false declarations.
Judge Dennis Lynch QC sentenced Morrison to three years in jail.
Ordered to serve six months in prison he will then be released with the remainder of the sentence suspended for three years.
Judge Lynch said Morrison was the project manager of an alliance set up to oversee the recovery work, and paid a wage. The sub-contractors wrote invoices and time sheets for the work done with Morrison's group to pay them.
He would certify this was done and invoices were sent to council who would pay from the disaster relief recovery funds.
"You were listed as a director of the company but at the time you were an undischarged bankrupt and should not have been a director," Judge Lynch said.
"On eight occasions you made declarations that all wages and sub-contractors claims were paid.
"The total amount paid out falsely by council was $107,988.50.
"Significantly $36,540.25 of the invoices were subsequently paid.
"The total not paid on to the sub-contractors was $71,448.25."
Defence barrister Simone Bain said Morrison had the $71,448.25 held in a trust account which would be paid to Lockyer Valley Council within seven working days.
"It wasn't taken out of an act of greed," Ms Bain said.