A Melbourne woman who stole more than $140,000 from her former partner told him she was “truly helping you to spend your dollars wisely”.
Marie Heeraman took $142,000 from her former partner between 2014 and 2016 – money which he had inherited from his mother.
She claimed to be the man’s dearest friend and told him that she would always be there for him, even when no one else seemed to care.
But then she used his money to buy a new car and bridal wear.
The pair met in the mid-2000s when Ms Heeraman, an aged care nurse, looked after her victim’s elderly parents and later formed a relationship.
In 2012 her victim received a $234,000 inheritance from his mother, a significant amount for a man who relied on Centrelink income.
Two years later he went to a bank with Ms Heeraman and opened an account in her name, depositing $198,000 into it.
It was agreed that Ms Heeraman would assist him managing the money, provide him with access to the funds as required and pay bills.
He wanted her to stop him spending it and to prevent his family accessing the money.
Without his knowledge she then transferred the funds into another bank account in her name.
Around the same time their relationship ended and Ms Heeraman began a new relationship, marrying her new partner in 2016.
Between October 2014 and August 2016 Ms Heeraman made 808 transactions from the account, spending her victim’s money on groceries, alcohol, personal grooming, homewares and clothing – including bridal wear.
She bought a new car and used the man’s inheritance to pay for insurance and other vehicle expenses.
Throughout that period Ms Heeraman would tell the man “you can count on me”.
She said she was “truly helping you to spend your dollars wisely” and that it was in his best interests because she didn’t want him to run out of money.
Ms Heeraman tried to cover the missing money by telling him to use Centrelink payments to pay for his rent, and encouraging him to get a job.
He discovered her deception when he unsuccessfully tried to access some of the money from the original account.
County Court Judge Sarah Dawes said on Tuesday that Ms Heeraman’s betrayal of trust was significant.
She has recently repaid the money – after borrowing more than $130,000 from her brother who refinanced his property to help her.
While Ms Heeraman’s lawyer said media publicity of the case had been stressful for her and should result in a lesser sentence, Judge Daws said her public humiliation was a consequence of her grossly dishonest conduct.
Ms Heeraman must complete 350 hours of community work as part of a two-year court order.
The victim said Ms Heeraman’s offending had left him feeling like he couldn’t trust anyone new in his life.