A former real estate agent has begged for a judge’s mercy after he admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients, so he could splurge on his dying wife.
Ballarat man Richard Hayden pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to fraudulently withdrawing more than $700,000 from his family’s 90-year-old real estate business, Hayden Real Estate, and moving the funds to his personal accounts.
An investigation was launched in 2022 when Hayden’s clients revealed they had not received deposits for the sale of their homes.
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The court heard Hayden spent more than $300,000 of the funds on lifestyle expenses, entertainment, clothing, and luxury hotels booked in Paris, Thailand, New York, Honolulu and Connecticut.
The money was taken from trust accounts belonging to pensioners, carers and retirees, who prosecutors claim were left with debts.
Hayden’s defence lawyer, Ian Hill, told the court his client had a lapse in judgement as he was stressed by the businesses growing debts.
He said Hayden wanted to spoil his wife, who was dying of cancer, during her last few months of her life.
“He was trying to shield her from the true financial state of the company so as not to make her worry,” Hill told the court.
Hayden’s wife, Lisa died in 2019, the same year the real estate company was placed into administration.
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