Steel shed woman found guilty
‘WHERE did the money go?', was the question posed by a Ballina Local Court magistrate when he found former local businesswoman Lee-Anne Munro guilty of nine fraud-related offences involving some $30,000 when she ran a steel shed building company.
Munro, 40, who now uses the name Gardner and lives in Mascot, was sentenced to six months and one day in jail, with the sentence immediately suspended by Magistrate John McIntosh who placed her on a good behaviour bond.
He said she had shown a lack of contrition.
Evidence before the court suggested Munro's business, Town & Country Sheds and Garages, had been operating well with plenty of customers before financially struggling by mid-2005 and then closing.
Munro emphatically denied any guilt on an initial 15 alleged offences and, through her defence lawyer Bruce Peters, argued her former husband Phillip Munro was the person responsible for tampering with documents involving some clients of Town & Country in 2005.
Magistrate John McIntosh yesterday found Mr Munro was not responsible in any way, saying the customers (victims of the offences) all dealt directly with Lee-Anne Munro.
Mr McIntosh expressed concern for one Kyogle couple, defrauded of $24,000 when they contracted the company to build a steel frame house that never arrived.
The victim, Fay Hood, gave evidence that when the steel frame did not arrive Lee-Anne Munro told her it was involved in a truck accident near Brisbane on the way to being delivered and the workmen seriously injured.
That incident was found to be a lie when Mrs Hood and her husband went to a Queensland business address Munro told her it was coming from, only to discover the building was empty.
Mrs Hood did locate its office only to be told she was not listed as a client, with no record of an order or money deposited on her behalf by Town & Country for the steel framework.
Munro's father, Sam Prasad, in cross-examination by police prosecutor Sgt Terry James, said he bought a house for his daughter (in her name) that was not a gift as the couple had to repay him. Mr Prasad said its deeds went missing and he discovered his daughter took them to use for a $150,000 finance loan.
“I was very, very angry,” he said.
“The house is lost?” asked Sgt James.
“Yes, absolutely,” replied Mr Prasad.
After the guilty findings for making and using fraudulent documents and for misappropriation, Mr Peters said what his client was guilty of was ‘trying to buy time to get out of financial difficulty, trying to keep the company afloat'.