SES leader steals from his volunteers
DEFRAUDING his own SES group just months after being appointed to a leadership role was not one of Justin Eric Clark's best decisions.
The 29-year-old Dalby man appeared before Dalby Magistrates Court facing nine counts of fraud, following an audit conducted by the Western Downs SES Local Controller Kevin Mizen.
Mr Mizen was tasked to audit Clark's use of the SES fuel card, which is funded by the local council, rather than the state government.
Getting this subsidy was no small feat for an organisation that has had to ask the community to provide bottled water for its volunteers on difficult missions in the past.
Mr Mizen discovered the former Dalby SES Group Leader had been taking excessive amounts of fuel for his private vehicle since his promotion early in 2015.
His use of the card peaked between July and December, prompting suspicion within the SES.
The court heard the amount which could be proven to be used for activity unrelated to the SES was $770.08.
One former member said he thought Clark had gotten off easily, while Mr Mizen said he was disappointed by the finding.
"It is unfortunate, because this theft impacts the whole community rather than one individual. They put the money into the SES to assist the community. It's hard enough finding funding as it is, let alone having people stealing it," he said.
Clark was stripped of his title as Group Leader and suspended from the SES until he finally faced court on March 24.
The court heard Clark accepted that it was a "stupid situation", and co-operated with authorities once the audit was brought to his attention.
Mr Clark had served the community through the SES for five years in the lead-up to his promotion.
The court heard that Clark was struggling financially due to his unemployment, and resorted to using the card as a result.
Magistrate Graham Lee said despite Clark's unemployment and financial strain, given his sizeable family, there was "no excuse" for the behaviour.
"It was certainly a breach of trust within the organisation," Magistrate Lee said.
Clark was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, ordered to pay back the $770.08 and convicted of fraud, for the dishonest application of SES property.