A “morally bankrupt” financial adviser who stole millions of dollars from brain-damaged and other vulnerable victims has been jailed for at least 10 years.
Describing Tina Louise McPhee’s actions as callous, persistent and relentless, Judge Simon Stretton said she lavishly spent the money on holidays, fashion and plastic surgery including breast enhancements.
“You committed this offending purely and simply out of greed and for your own benefit,” he said in the South Australian District Court when sentencing the 40-year-old on Friday.
McPhee, pleaded guilty to 181 counts of dishonestly receiving property, stealing $1.9 million from six clients over a six-year period from August 2006 while she was trustee of their compensation payouts.
The judge said he was only sentencing her for those offences, but he took into account the fact that more than $4 million was lost, which included the substantial interest the payouts would have earned.
McPhee was appointed trustee to look after payouts made to two brain-injured crash victims and to four children whose relatives died in a car accident.
“It is difficult to conceive a worse or more serious breach of trust,” the judge said.
“You are a callous, dishonest and morally bankrupt woman.”
The victims have not recovered any money and have launched court action, which the judge said, could be expensive and long-running.
He had “very significant reservations” about her claim of remorse and apology, given that the offending was relentless and involved helpless, trusting victims whom she had been duty-bound to protect.
“That you would spend six years stealing their money, spending it by and large extravagantly on yourself while they suffered and went without … is simply outrageous.”
He noted McPhee, who was once a disability worker, did not suffer from any psychiatric disorder, or have a drug or alcohol problem.
The judge set a maximum term of 13 years.