Conman bolts from court
AT least you could see him running.
Rockhampton race horse scammer Robert O'Leary had just been given two years to pay back more than $20,000 to duped investors when he bolted from the Rockhampton court house yesterday.
O'Leary, 25, was also sentenced to 18 months jail, wholly suspended, and 80 hours community service, for selling a phantom race horse eight times to different investors.
Each punter paid deposits of between $2000 and $5000 to either a bank or TAB account nominated by O'Leary.
The money was used to feed his gambling addiction and pay off debts.
Dressed in dark trousers and a stylish white shirt for yesterday's Rockhampton District Court sentencing, O'Leary heard how his con had been a huge embarrassment to his family, which is well known in the city's racing fraternity.
O'Leary ran the scam between February 2003 and December 2004.
Crown prosecutor John McGrath said on each occasion he had "falsely represented he had race horses for sale''.
"(Prospective) purchasers would deposit the money into a bank or TAB account nominated by (O'Leary),'' Mr McGrath said.
"This was all done on the understanding that (O'Leary) would deliver or arrange for the horse to be delivered.''
He said when O'Leary was questioned by police in February 2004, he originally claimed to be acting on behalf of a third party before being charged with seven offences.
O'Leary was on bail when he reoffended again later that year.
O'Leary's father is a trainer, his brother a jockey and two of his sisters are married to people involved in the racing industry.
O'Leary's defence barrister Tom Polley said his client also had a racing background, having worked as a stable hand at various places, including Sydney, where he was living at the time.
The sales were all in Rockhampton.
Mr Polley said the scheme arose out of his client's destitu- tion and O'Leary had already started to pay some of the money back.
In sentencing, Judge Ryrie said the only reason O'Leary was not going to jail was so he could get back to work and repay the money.
He has two years to repay the $20,030 total.