Farm worker stole equipment, traded it for cash
A MOUNT Beryman man stole an extensive amount of farm equipment from his employer across a three-month period and sold the items for cash to a local recycler.
Ben Kazda appeared in the Gatton Magistrates Court on Monday after he was charged in September with one count of stealing by clerks and servants.
The 35-year-old father of five pleaded guilty to the offence and said he was struggling financially.
Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Al Windsor said Kazda stole a range of items including copper wire, wire rolls, batteries, pipe fittings, star picket offcuts and alternators from his employer, Covino Farms.
Sergeant Windsor said the farm's owner, Peter Covino, began to realise items were going missing on his farm at Brightview in the Lockyer Valley.
Mr Covino conducted an internal investigation that found Kazda had been trading the farm items for cash at a local recycling business in Laidley.
The prosecution said Kazda was employed as a general farm hand at Covino farms between May 2017, and March 2020, but committed the offences during a three-month period between September 2019 and March 2020.
He was also required on numerous occasions to work in a supervisor role, Sergeant Windsor said.
Mr Covino received a list of the items that had been traded by Kazda at Sunstate Recyclers and referred it to police.
The total replacement value of the items was added up to be worth around $10,000 Sergeant Windsor told the court.
Kazda handed himself into Laidley police on September 30, this year and said he believed some of the items were scrap but made admissions to knowing some of the items were not, but continued to trade them anyway.
Sergeant Windsor said Kazda committed the offences during work hours and used a work vehicle to do it.
Some of the items were recovered, however Mr Covino liaised with police and requested Kazda pay $5000 restitution for the outstanding items.
Kazda told the court it was "a stupid thing to do", but said he had previously had discussions with Mr Covino about being owed 40 hours of unpaid wages and 70 hours of annual leave owed to him, when the magistrate said he would be order to pay the restitution.
Magistrate Graham Lee said the matter could be dealt with a fine, but said he was "significantly trimming it down" as he ordered Kazda to pay the $5000 restitution.
Magistrate Lee convicted and fined Kazda $1500 referred to SPER.
He was ordered to pay $5000 compensation referred to SPER.
The conviction was recorded.