A woman has been jailed after stealing more than $280,000 from the major mining company she worked for, using it to buy an inner-city apartment and new car.
A woman has been jailed after stealing more than $280,000 from the major mining company she worked for, using it to buy an inner-city apartment and new car.

New unit and Audi for worker who took $284k from employer

A woman who defrauded her mining company employer of $284,000, spending some of it on an inner-city Brisbane apartment and a luxury car she could not afford, has been jailed.

Nicole Rani Gunthorpe, 43, had worked for Kestrel Coal as a lead accounts payment clerk for only weeks when she began siphoning company money into her bank accounts.

On 37 occasions over 15 months Gunthorpe fraudulently transferred a total of $284,869 into her NAB and Bank of Queensland accounts, Brisbane District Court heard.

Judge Jennifer Rosengren said Gunthorpe's offending was brazen, persistent, systematic and showed a degree of sophistication, by her use of three personal bank accounts.

She had betrayed the trust of her employer, while working in Kestrel Coal's Brisbane office from August, 2018, until her job was terminated on February 4, last year.

"You deliberately set out to help yourself to this money," Judge Rosengren said.

Gunthorpe, 43, pleaded guilty to defrauding Kestrel Mining Pty Ltd, as an employee, of more than $100,000, between October, 2018 and January, 2020.

The offence carries a maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment.

She also pleaded guilty to one count of forgery and one count of uttering a forged document on one occasion in 2019.

Gunthorpe was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, suspended after she serves 12 months behind bars. The suspended sentence will be operational for five years.

Crown prosecutor Bronwyn Currie said Gunthorpe used some of the money she fraudulently obtained to buy a Teneriffe apartment in 2019 and a luxury Audi car.

Gunthorpe bought the apartment, paying deposits of $3000 and $10,000, and put $40,000 of company money into the mortgage, after earlier transferring funds from one of her accounts to another, Judge Rosengren said.

She also presented a forged pay slip, over-inflating her wage, to secure finance to buy the car.

After her arrest Gunthorpe sold the apartment and car and repaid $102,869 to her employer, the court heard.

Judge Rosengren said Gunthorpe made the first fraudulent transfer of funds within five or six weeks of starting her job, with the value of each transaction ranging from $2000 to $15,000.

She transferred $4500 of company money the first time and on another day she transferred a total of $19,750, the judge said.

After the fraud was discovered by an auditor, Gunthorpe, who had kept screen shots of each fraudulent transaction, co-operated with authorities and immediately began repaying the money, defence counsel Dominic Brunello said.

When confronted, Gunthorpe said she thought nobody would notice the amounts she was transferring and admitted she had been "buying stuff she had not been able to afford before".

Although Judge Rosengren accepted Gunthorpe's long-term major depressive disorder contributed to her offending, she knew what she was doing was criminally wrong.

The judge took into account Gunthorpe's early guilty plea, remorse, co-operation and psychological and psychiatric reports.

Originally published as New unit, Audi as worker rips $284k off employer