Man defrauded disability housing company more than $15,000

A FORMER gambling addict who defrauded a Toowoomba not-for-profit housing organisation and its disability tenants of more than $15,000 has been jailed.

Peter Francis Murphy, 55, held a position of trust in his role as property manager for what was then called Toowoomba Community Housing Services, now YellowBridge, from October 2010 to October 2011.

He was responsible for lodging bonds monies with the Residential Tenancies Authority as part of his position.

But on 26 occasions between December 2011 and February 2012 - after he ceased employment with the organisation, he transferred bonds monies to his own personal account and withdrew the funds from ATMs in Toowoomba and the surrounding region.

The transfers totalled $15,396.31 and, despite Murphy sending an email to his former employer in 2013 admitting the fraud and offering to repay the funds, he did not.

YellowBridge used its own funds to repay the tenants, many of whom have disabilities.

A police investigation into the fraud found Murphy would transfer the funds to his own account "when he himself was low in available funds", prosecutor Catherine Neilsen told the Toowoomba Magistrates Court.

Murphy left Queensland soon after with a warrant was issued in his name, and police were unable to locate him until a traffic intercept, described as "fortuitous" by Magistrate Damian Carroll, on October 28 last year at Helidon.

Murphy's solicitor Thirushka Naidoo said her client had suffered severe trauma as a child and was going through an acrimonious relationship breakdown at the time of the offending, and at the time had a gambling problem.

Mr Carroll said the offending was a serious "breach of trust", and noted some of the transactions occurred after he left the organisation.

Murphy pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud and was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, the term to be suspended for two years after serving four months.