Alistair Brightman

Ice addict swindles $4600 with fake Gumtree advertisements

AN ICE addict who swindled thousands of dollars from people using classifieds website Gumtree has had his jail sentence extended.

Ashley John Ernst pleaded guilty in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court to 10 charges of fraud committed between September 2 last year and February 18 this year.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Tracy Wall said Ernst responded to wanted postings on the site 10 times, telling people he had the item they needed but to secure it they would have to deposit a portion of the cost into his bank account.

Items Ernst claimed to have available for sale included a shipping container, parts of an excavator and an 80 series Land Cruiser.

Sgt Wall said Ernst, 31, admitted to the crimes when interviewed by police at Maryborough Correctional Centre where he was serving a prison term for similar offences.

"He said 'it's probably me, it's just like my form'," Sgt Wall said.

During the five-and-a-half month fraud-spree, Ernst managed to swindle $4600 from unsuspecting website users.

Defence lawyer Kade Eames said Ernst had committed the frauds in order to obtain money to fuel his addiction to ice.

"He is not proud of what he has done," Mr Eames said.

Ernst appeared in the dock dressed in prison greens and looked at the floor during the sentence.

Magistrate Graeme Tatnell denounced Ernst's action.

"That's what an addiction to ice does to people," he said.

"If you are going to have any sort of life you have to stay away from the drugs."

Mr Tatnell warned Ernst against re-offending.

"This might be easy money but people don't like being ripped off," he said.

Mr Tatnell said if the matters had been heard with Ernt's previous fraud conviction it would have had some effect on his sentence. Ernst was sentenced to 18 months in prison to be served concurrently with his current sentence and was also ordered to pay $4600 in restitution.

His parole release date was moved further away to December 14 this year.



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