Chris Ison

Fraudster leaves $150k trail of deceit

EIGHT businesses and individuals from Mackay will never see the cash they handed over to David Bryan O'Neill for the repair and purchase of trailers.

O'Neill, 45, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of fraud in the District Court in Mackay after he took deposits totalling $153,237.60 from eight different people over two-and-a-half years and failed to provide the services he'd promised.

Crown prosecutor Matthew Hynes said O'Neill had a criminal history in Western Australia and was sent to prison on three separate occasions for fraud and stealing.

Mr Hynes said O'Neill did not "make, deliver or return" any of the trailers for his clients and instead used their deposits to pay off his debts.

He said O'Neill was arrested on December 13 last year and admitted to police he lied to clients, trying to dig himself "out of a financial hole".

Mr Hynes said it was particularly concerning that towards the end of the period of offending O'Neill "sought out" clients "so he could take their money".

On December 15 the Mackay Magistrates Court heard O'Neill had defrauded $10,340 from Dixon Homes Mackay, $24,640 from McDonald Murphy Machinery, $26, 600 from Jamie Lawrence Woods, and $3515.60 from Peter Mifsud.

The court heard O'Neill also defrauded Loughlin Brothers Transport Equipment of $6050, Trailer Sales NQ of $44,000, RNJ Tilt Tray Truck Hire of $9592 and $27,500 from TSC Haulage.

Defence barrister Bronwyn Hartigan said her client moved to Queensland for a "fresh start" and blamed his offending on "poor quoting" and "poor management".

"It's very peculiar that he didn't try to hide any of the fraud," Ms Hartigan said.

"He thought he could trade out of this."

Judge Anthony Rafter described the offending as "very serious", saying the fraud was "not sophisticated but it was clearly effective".

He recorded a conviction and sentenced O'Neill to five years in prison, suspended after 16 months, with an operational period of five years.

O'Neill has already served almost 10 months in custody.

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