Char­ity funds stolen

Joondalup Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A CRAIGIE res­i­dent stole more than $57,000 from a Bali bomb­ing sur­vivor’s char­ity for burns vic­tims af­ter gain­ing ac­cess to funds while she was the head of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Sa­man­tha Chelsea McC­ly­mans (42) was jailed for two years last week af­ter plead­ing guilty in the District Court to two counts of steal­ing as a ser­vant.

Her role as chief ex­ec­u­tive at the Peter Hughes Burns Foun­da­tion meant she had sole ac­cess to its ac­counts, which she plun­dered on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, spend­ing the cash on things such as hair­dos, wash­ing her dog and buy­ing ex­pen­sive cos­metic cream for her niece.

Some of the money had been held in trust for Dana Vulin, who nearly died in 2012 when Natalie Dim­itro­vska doused her with methy­lated spir­its and set her on fire dur­ing a jeal­ous rage.

The court heard Ms Vulin con­tacted McC­ly­mans sev­eral times about on­go­ing de­lays get­ting ac­cess to her money and re­ceived about one-third of what she was en­ti­tled to in between be­ing lied to, fobbed off and ul­ti­mately ig­nored.

“She is still in ab­so­lute dis­be­lief that you could take ad­van­tage of her and all of the peo­ple who do­nated to her cause by us­ing that money that was sup­posed to be pay­ing for her re­cov­ery to spend on your own day-to­day liv­ing ex­penses,” Judge Troy Sweeney said. “She re­ally can’t be­lieve it and it’s left her feel­ing both be­trayed and heart­bro­ken.”

McC­ly­mans at­tempted to jus­tify the spend­ing as be­ing job re­lated and petrol could have been used for some busi­ness, but Judge Sweeney said other claims were “ob­vi­ous fic­tion”.

The judge also la­belled McC­ly­mans’ claim that two de­tec­tives ap­proached her in a cafe say­ing Ms Vulin was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion and should not be paid her money “bizarre”.

“You create smoke­screens in an at­tempt to di­vert peo­ple from the truth,” Judge Sweeney said.

“Ev­ery­body you know thinks so highly of you and thinks of you as such a help­ful and hon­est per­son that you ac­tu­ally now find it im­pos­si­ble to openly ad­mit that dur­ing this pe­riod of time in your life you were not an hon­est per­son.

“Ad­mit­ting that will shat­ter their im­age of you and your own im­age of your­self.”

He said it was “just ex­tra­or­di­nary” McC­ly­mans felt she could dip into money that should have been used to help burns vic­tims, in­clud­ing mod­i­fy­ing the bath­rooms of those who found it dif­fi­cult to use their hands to turn on taps. McC­ly­mans will be el­i­gi­ble for pa­role af­ter she has served one year be­hind bars and must com­pen­sate Ms Vulin and United Way.

Sa­man­tha McC­ly­mans.

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