How woman stole $1M from strip club

A BOOKKEEPER forced a Surfers Paradise strip club into liquidation after she stole about $1 million and then tried to claim she was unfairly sacked, a court was told.

Tina Harris, 54, will remain behind bars until at least June 2023 after admitting to the five-year scam in the Southport District Court yesterday.

She pleaded guilty to one count of fraud.

A judge questioned whether Harris had "psychopathic tendencies".

Harris was trusted by Players Group owner Paul Janice Petrie to act as bookkeeper and pay the company's wages and bills between July 2008 and July 2013.

Players Group consisted of a number of Gold Coast companies including Players Showgirls and charity Good Times Queensland.

Around $1 million was stolen from Players.
Around $1 million was stolen from Players.

Crown prosecutor Judith Geary said instead Harris transferred money into her own accounts, to other family members and friends.

"Multiple transactions show they ranged between $50 and $30,000," she said.

"She logged them as wages for people who did not work there."

The court was told the strip club Players Showgirls went into liquidation in 2012 because of the theft.

Harris's fraud was discovered when Mr Petrie got a forensic accountant to go through the books.

The bookkeeper was sacked and a complaint lodged with police.

Ms Geary said Harris launched an unfair dismissal complaint which was thrown out when she failed to provide the tribunal with the necessary documents.

Judge David Kent said in sentencing: "Frauds of this kind are committed by people with somewhat psychopathic tendencies.

"Commencement of the unfair dismissal claim … is consistent with psychopathic tendencies. I merely make that observation."

He sentenced her to eight years in prison with parole eligibility on June 24, 2023.

Mr Kent said the fraud was "calculated" and "systemic".

Defence barrister Sarah Thompson, instructed by Bamberry Lawyers, said the offending began because the Players Group had trouble obtaining credit from suppliers.

She said Harris would transfer the money into her own account and then use that to pay suppliers.

The club went into liquidation over the theft. (Pic: iStock)
The club went into liquidation over the theft. (Pic: iStock)

"That got out of control," she said.

Ms Thompson told the court that New Zealand-born Harris moved to Australia in the mid-90s.

It is likely Harris will be deported to New Zealand when released from prison because under law any non-Australian citizen who is sentenced to more than 12 months in prison is sent home after serving their time.