Brenda Leanne Macklin leaves Mackay Magistrates Court in 2018. She has now pleaded guilty to fraud totalling $1.5m and has been jailed for 7.5 years.
Brenda Leanne Macklin leaves Mackay Magistrates Court in 2018. She has now pleaded guilty to fraud totalling $1.5m and has been jailed for 7.5 years. Troy Kippen

Mackay mum sent to jail in $1.5m fraud case

IN THE ultimate betrayal a long-term worker ripped her boss off more than $1.5 million and spent it on a failing family business, her children and personal extravagance.

The Mackay mother of four was ultimately dobbed in by her former husband, who left his family to start a new life with his mistress.

To make herself feel better, she spent $58,000 on cosmetic surgery - and the money she used to pay for the indulgence formed part of the shocking total embezzled from her former employer.

Brenda Leanne Macklin, 49, had been an administration officer at All Metal Solutions for more than two decades, but the past six years between 2011 and 2017 were marked by deceit and treachery totalling $1,516,793.

Mackay District Court head Macklin's duties included managing the accounts, payroll, reimbursing creditors and obtaining debtor payments.

"You either dishonestly transferred money to bank accounts you controlled or transferred money applied to your own personal expenses or received unauthorised income in your salary," Judge Tony Moynihan said.

She tried to avoid detection by creating false creditor invoices using legitimate customer codes or through a cash payments function within the computer system so the payments appeared as company expenses.

"Your fraud was discovered because your ex-husband noticed some anomalies in a shared account and told the relevant interested parties," Judge Moynihan said.

The court heard Macklin had paid some restitution, although about All Metal Solutions was still out of pocket about $900,000.

Today Macklin was jailed for seven and a half years after pleading guilty to three counts of fraud as an employee.

Owners Caesar Van Lint and Steven Battaia said they were "deeply disturbed" after discovering the fraud.

Mr Van Lint said they were "shocked" a fraud had been carried out by one of their own staff.

"As the full extent of the misappropriation of funds became known, following an investigation by our external accountants, we felt angered and betrayed," said Mr Battaia.

Despite the fraud, the owners said the business continued to go from strength to strength.

Crown prosecutor Tiffany Lawrence said the motivation behind the offending was financial difficulties in the family.

In 2011 Macklin's former husband started his own business selling machinery to the mines, which required significant start-up capital and ultimately failed.

Defence barrister Scott McLennan said his client "felt desperate" and the offending began with stolen money used to prop up the failing business.

"The offending escalated in 2013 as the family's financial situation became worse," Mr McLennan said.

Then over the 2014-15 Christmas holidays, Macklin's husband revealed he was having an affair and he walked out.

The court heard some of the money was also used during periods of no financial support after the marriage ended as well as on holidays, home renovations and cosmetic surgery.

"This was a deeply unhappy family so some of that money was used to try and buy a temporary reprieve ... it was money spent to make them feel better about what the current situation was," Mr McLennan said.

Judge Moynihan noted Macklin had entered timely pleas and cooperated with police making admissions.

She will be eligible for parole on December 20, 2021. Convictions were recorded.

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