Townsville kleptomaniac steals $50k from disabled patient, spends it on Xbox, flowers and alcohol
A kleptomaniac has been jailed in north Queensland for stealing nearly $50,000 from a man he was caring for, leaving the intellectually impaired client with so little money he can no longer go on a planned bucket-list trip.
Ronald Shirley, 27, had been trusted to handle his victim’s finances but instead repeatedly transferred money into his own bank account, spending it on alcohol, an Xbox membership, flower deliveries and bills.
The Townsville Magistrates Court heard one transfer totalled $19,000, however there were multiple transactions over the eight-month period in 2018.
The client is part of the NDIS and suffers from Huntington’s Disease — a condition impacting a person’s cognitive and physical capabilities as well as their emotional wellbeing and personality traits.
The disease, which can be treated but not cured, is an inherited condition in which nerve cells in the brain break down over time.
In an extensive victim impact statement provided to the court, the patient said his “trust had been broken” and had sought ongoing psychological support.
Furthermore, a planned “bucket-list” trip to New Zealand had to be cancelled after the discovery of his depleted savings.
Kleptomania diagnosis presented to court
Defence barrister Alex Raeburn said Shirley, who pleaded guilty, had not attempted to conceal the offence, which was traceable and unsophisticated.
Mr Raeburn said Shirley, a father of two young children, felt genuine remorse, which he demonstrated by making efforts at restitution through a $13,900 payment.
A psychological analysis of Shirley provided to the court by his defence also claimed his recent diagnosis of kleptomania, an impulse control disorder that results in an irresistible urge to steal, was a driving force of his offending.
Magistrate Howard Osbourne labelled Shirley’s offending as a “serious breach of trust” and said he had spent the stolen funds on items that were not necessities.
Shirley was sentenced to two and a half years in jail, serving a minimum of eight months.
He was also ordered to repay his victim the total $47,374.19 in the next 18 months.
Following court proceedings, the victim disclosed that he was happy Shirley would spend time behind bars.
“He broke my trust,” he said.