Fraudster finally jailed

A WARWICK pensioner has been convicted in the Brisbane District Court of fraud charges after legal delays lasting nearly 15 years.

Ronald Wayne McCallum, 58, was sentenced this week to four years jail but will be released after eight months due to mental disorders he suffers.

The court was told that in 1993 McCallum was a financial consultant who targeted people close to bankruptcy.

His offending began that year, when he sent unsolicited letters offering assistance to people - whose names he found in finance publication lists - being sued by the Australian Tax Office or finance providers.

Chief Judge Patsy Wolfe noted that McCallum's company's records were in such a mess it had not been possible to determine exactly what the loss had been or McCallum's profit, but a loss to his victims of up to $131,000 was estimated.

She heard McCallum took one family's tractor, telling them he would sell it to pay creditors, but instead used it on his own Sunshine Coast property.

He was finally referred to the Office of Fair Trading in 1999 and in 2001 he was arrested.

In 2003 a co-accused was jailed for two and a half years, with McCallum due to stand trial in 2005, but he was given an adjournment to go to the Mental Health Court to assess his ability to stand trial.

In 2007, a warrant was issued for McCallum's arrest but it was not executed until 2009, with his hearing not taking place until this month.

McCallum, now an invalid pensioner and living in Warwick, pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud between 1993 and 1997.

The victims included a farming family, a painting business, and a printing business.

They paid money into a trust account with the intention of eventually paying out their creditors, but the money was used to pay McCallum and his partner's creditors.

Judge Wolfe accepted submissions from McCallum's lawyers that he would find jail more difficult because of an injury he suffered during treatment for depression, anxiety and stress.

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