Tina McPhee, the Adelaide financial adviser who stole from helpless victims of tragedy to fund mortgage repayments and a lavish lifestyle, has been sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to 181 offences.
Over a period of six years the former AMP
adviser stole money from six clients - two with brain injuries and four children who lost their mother and another family member in a car accident – and used it to fund a luxurious lifestyle of travel and plastic surgery.
In total, forensic analysis indicates that McPhee spent more than $4.3 million of the victims’ money.
In handing down the sentence of 13 years' imprisonment with a non-parole period of 10 years, Justice Simon Stretton said the woman had condemned her “helpless and dependant” victims to a frightening and uncertain future.
“You are a callous, dishonest, morally bankrupt woman whose behaviour is an affront to the principles of trust you undertook to fulfil,” he said. “Your actions are an affront to the victims themselves and to the community at large.”
The first of McPhee’s victims suffered a brain injury in 1984 and was permanently incapacitated and not capable of managing her own affairs. In 2005 she received a $1.1 million settlement, and McPhee was appointed as a trustee soon after.
The second victim was left with permanent brain damage after being seriously injured in a car accident in 2009, and was awarded over $1.9 million in compensation. McPhee was also appointed as his trustee.
The remaining four victims were children who received almost $500,000 as a result of the death of their mother and a family member in a car accident.
“Rather than act honestly as a trustee, almost from the outset you embarked on a relentless calculated campaign to steal, misuse and dissipate the victims’ compensation moneys,” said Justice Stretton during sentencing.
He also commented that not only have none of the victims received compensation by McPhee, but financial license holder AMP has yet to offer them restitution either.
The victims have since launched civil court action, ABC News
“[AMP] are not here, they may have a defence to the action so I make no concluded adverse comment in relation to them, nor in relation to the solicitors who are also being sued for their actions over the appointment of you as trustee,” Stretton said.
The court heard how McPhee – who made once headlines after posing semi-naked in an advertisement for a juice business she set up after leaving AMP – used the stolen money to go on shopping sprees, holidays to Italy, America and Europe, and to pay for mortgages on property.
She also used it to fund breast enhancement surgery.
Stretton said there was no evidence that McPhee suffers from any kind of psychotic disorder, intellectual disability, drug or alcohol abuse or serious personality disorder.
He noted she had grown up in a stable and happy family with a good education; however she may have been the victim of sexual abuse at certain stages of her childhood.
“But your offending was so relentless, appalling and callous I’m left with very significant reservations about the sincerity of your claimed remorse and apology,” Stretton said. “You committed this offending purely out of greed and for your own benefit. You didn’t need the money.”
The 13-year sentence was backdated to begin on 23 July 2013, the day McPhee was taken into custody.
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