A former general manager of the Adelaide Remand Center who stole more than $100,000 in cash from inmates gambled away $1 million around the same time as the theft, an Adelaide court has heard.
Most important points:
- Brenton Williams stole $112,000 from a safe at the Adelaide Remand Center
- Around the same time, he gambled over $1 million at the Adelaide Casino
- His lawyer told the court that he had accumulated large debts but was trying to “scrape back financially”
Brenton Williams, who worked for the center’s private operator, Serco, pleaded guilty to stealing $112,000 from a safe used to store cash seized from inmates when they were taken into custody.
Earlier, the court heard that the theft was committed between April 27 and July 27, 2022.
Prosecutor James Watson told the court that the 47-year-old gambled $1,046,890 at the Adelaide Casino between January and July of the same year.
The prosecution said not all of the money Williams gambled away that year necessarily came from the theft, but it was concerning nonetheless.
“It brings to light, in my view, a worrying aspect of the context … which may inform the court of prospects for rehabilitation,” said Mr Watson.
Williams wiped away tears when his lawyer Christopher Weir asked the court for a “merciful non-parole” and explained the financial and mental problems he faced leading up to the crime.
The defense said Williams had moved to Perth without his family to work with Serco for an annual salary of $250,000 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
“This caused tremendous stress for him, being away from family, not being able to travel back,” Mr Weir said.
‘He knows it was foolish’
Williams also managed a pub in Stirling North at the time, which led to him being $234,000 in debt by 2022, the court heard.
“With a number of lockdowns at the time, the business itself had to effectively shut down,” Mr Weir said.
“At that stage he was considering bankruptcy.”
But the court heard that after returning to work at the Adelaide Remand Centre, Williams was concerned that going bankrupt would mean losing his job, and his lawyer described him as a “desperate man”.
“He foolishly didn’t and went down the path of gambling,” Mr Weir said.
He said his client had made “a hopeful effort to make a financial comeback by using that money … from the safe at the Adelaide Remand Centre”.
But Mr Weir said Williams intended “to return that money if he could”.
“In retrospect, he knows it was foolish,” he said.
Mr Weir said that given Williams’ previous position within the state prison system, he is not currently being held by the general prison population, for which he was “grateful”.
Mr Weir told Judge Jo-Anne Deuter that Williams’ time in custody had been “tough” and that he had been held in high dependency ward after two attempted suicides.
“He has done his best as a prisoner to deal with his gambling problem,” he said.
“This is a man with very good, if not excellent, prospects for rehabilitation, and a man deeply sorry.”
In response, District Attorney James Watson told the court that it wasn’t the first time Williams had sought help for his gambling addiction, having received counseling between 2002 and 2003.
The prosecution asked the judge not to allow Williams to be placed on house arrest, citing his crime as a “breach of trust”.
The case will return to court in March.