Scam victim Julie Cox looked McCartney in the eye in court.
Scam victim Julie Cox looked McCartney in the eye in court. Chris Ison

High-roller conman David Bruce McCartney jailed

WHILE people were losing their life savings, David McCartney and his wife were living the high life on the Sunshine Coast.

He had ripped off nine of his closest friends for almost $1.4 million over six years.

Last week, he looked like any 64-year-old, as he sat in a Rockhampton courtroom, knowing he was going to jail.

The story unfolded of a man who befriended people and earned their trust over many years, before conning them out of everything they had.

David Bruce McCartney big-noted himself around town and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars living a lavish lifestyle of gambling, travel, luxury cars and expensive hotel suites.

Gambling on the horses was his poison of choice and his credit card showed over $70,000 in traceable gambling transactions.

Sunshine Coast detective, Shannon Dowd, said McCartney was well known in Maroochydore for throwing money around.

"He had a lot of front for someone who was in such deep trouble," he said.

The fraudulent, Ponzi investment operations occurred between 2004 and 2011.

McCartney paid dividends to his "investors" through their own money, convincing them his operation was genuine.

Some believed they were investing in a brothel, others were told it was a mine transport operation.

In one of his scams, McCartney took $16,160 from three different people under the guise of arranging mining career induction courses, medical examinations and employment.

It was only when one of the intended victims checked McCartney's story with Fortescue Metals, who he claimed to represent, that the elaborate schemes began to unravel.

Det Dowd said McCartney made full and frank admissions when police questioned him at Maroochydore Police Station.

McCartney pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and one count of attempted fraud in a 2011 committal hearing.

During last Wednesday's sentencing, Crown prosecutor Jess Cryer told Rockhampton District Court about the close personal relationships each of the complainants had with McCartney.

Det Dowd said some victims didn't believe him when he called to tell them they had been conned, even after McCartney was arrested.

"They were still getting returns on their money and he was a friend. When it finally sank in they were devastated," he said.

Collectively, McCartney's victims were $776,000 out of pocket, with no prospect of being repaid.

In a victim impact statement, one woman told how the man she saw as a father figure had convinced her to "invest" her father's inheritance of $135,000.

Yeppoon TAB owner Julie Cox lost more than $100,000.

Outside Rockhampton District Court on Wednesday she said it was beyond belief McCartney would steal from her.

"We were friends, we trusted him completely," she said.

She was the only victim in the courtroom on Wednesday and said she was there to get closure.

"I made eye contact. I wanted to see him look at me when sentence was handed down."

McCartney fought back tears as Judge Paul Smith sentenced him to nine-and-a-half years in jail.

He murmured a quiet apology as his eyes met Julie Cox.

He will be eligible for parole on July 31, 2016.

WHERE DID dollars GO?

  • $16,000 travel
  • $28,000 hotels
  • $24,000 luxury car hire
  • $6000 restaurants
  • $32,000 casino accommodation
  • $28,000 cash withdrawals
  • $17,000 personal luxury items
  • $41,000 TAB
  • $62,000 RSL
  • Over $1 million cash withdrawals

To Catch A Theif

McCARTNEY'S scheme began to unravel when one intended victim became suspicious and checked his claims about representing Fortescue Metals.

When Fortescue told her they knew nothing of McCartney, she went to the police.

McCartney failed to attend Yeppoon Police Station but he was known on the Coast and a sighting was reported to police soon after.

Sunshine Coast CIB detective Shannon Dowd said they located McCartney quickly, a couple of streets away.

A case containing paperwork with bank transactions and details of all his victims was found in the boot of his car.

"It was simply a matter of following the paper trail then," said Det Dowd.

The contents of the case gave police all the information they needed to identify McCartney's victims.

He pleaded guilty immediately and then began having heart problems.

After two days in hospital, McCartney was charged at his hospital bedside in September 2011.

Det Dowd said he made full admissions when interviewed.

"He seemed remorseful but whether or not that was genuine…"

To Bring Down The Hammer

McCARTNEY'S scheme began to unravel when one intended victim became suspicious and checked his claims about representing Fortescue Metals.

When Fortescue told her they knew nothing of McCartney, she went to the police.

McCartney failed to attend Yeppoon Police Station but he was known on the coast and a sighting was reported to police soon after.

Sunshine Coast CIB detective, Shannon Dowd said they located McCartney quickly, a couple of streets away.

A case containing paperwork with bank transactions and details of all his victims was found in the boot of his car.

"It was simply a matter of following the paper trail then, "said Det Dowd.

The contents of the case gave police all the information they needed to identify McCartney's victims.

He pleaded guilty immediately and then began having heart problems.

After two days in hospital, McCartney was charged at his hospital bedside in September 2011.

Det Dowd said he made full and frank admissions when interviewed.

"He seemed remorseful but whether or not that was genuine…"



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