News State QLD News Charity manager stole $1 million to gamble, take holidays and watch TV

Charity manager stole $1 million to gamble, take holidays and watch TV

Donna Healey
The long-time charity worker spent about $2,500 a week on poker machines. Photo: ABC
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A long-time charity manager used most of the $1 million she defrauded from a disability respite centre to pay for her gambling habit, holidays, pay-TV account and her husband’s business expenses, the District Court in Brisbane has heard.

Donna Healey was on Tuesday sentenced to eight years in jail after she pleaded guilty to using her position as an administrative officer at Horizons Respite and Recreation Association to transfer money on 866 occasions into her own bank account.

Healey was sacked in 2013 when the fraud was detected, but had worked at the not-for-profit centre for 15 years, the last four as administration manager.

The court heard the care organisation based in Redcliffe, north of Brisbane, helped families and individuals with severe disabilities and was unable to purchase important communications equipment because of the money the 54-year-old siphoned into her account.

In sentencing, Judge Deborah Richards said Healey’s actions were “calculated and callous”.

“The people involved were very vulnerable members of our society that you’ve taken money from,” Judge Richards said.

“Victim impact statements tendered indicated that as a result of the fraud, funds were not available for essential equipment, particularly equipment which enabled some of the more severely disabled people to communicate.”

“[The fraud] was calculated and it was over a long period of time.”

Crown prosecutor Melissa Wilson had earlier told the court Healey spent about $2500 a week on poker machines, but not all of the money she stole was spent on gambling.

“Many B-payments [were made] to companies such as Flight Centre, Foxtel, numerous insurance companies, along with general household bills and tax payments,” she said.

A psychologist’s report ordered at an earlier court date indicated Healey suffered from a “significant gambling problem”, which impaired her capacity to control her behaviour.

The court was told she has repaid more than $200,000 since the fraud was uncovered in 2013.

She will be eligible for parole in September 2019.