Gympie businessman ripped woman off more than $50k
A GYMPIE region businessman has been ordered to pay more than $80,000 in combined compensation and fines after failing to pay a woman who bought a two-bedroom cabin from him but never received it.
Peter John Murray, 50, did not appear in the Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday when the Office of Fair Trading brought forward a charge of failing to supply goods against him.
The court heard Mr Murray’s company Peters Cabins Pty Ltd was contracted to construct and supply a two-bedroom cabin at Booroobin near Maleny in October 2017.
He took a deposit of $5,715 and a commencement payment of $37,159 from the victim, before requesting further payment of $14,400 for driveway construction at the site in February 2018.
No work had been done at the site by July 2018, when the victim requested Murray refund her the full amount of $57,274, the court heard.
That money was never returned, with the victim only able to recover $6,438 through the Queensland Building and Construction Commission’s Home Warranty Scheme.
An OFT inspector told the court there was a clear need for the court to deter similar offending.
“The object of Australian consumer law is to provide a fair and equitable marketplace for consumers against undesirable practices,” the inspector said.
The inspector told the court Murray, identified as the “sole director” of Peters Cabins, had been “unresponsive and uncooperative” throughout the office’s attempts to contact him.
Murray did not appear in court, leaving the matter to proceed ex parte.
Magistrate Chris Callaghan said deterrence loomed large in sentencing Murray for the “brazenness” of his actions.
Murray was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay the remaining $50,836 in compensation to the victim. Peters Cabins was fined a further $20,000. A conviction was recorded against both Murray and his company.
Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said businesses had obligations to consumers under the ACL.
“The OFT will take action against businesses that accept money from consumers and fail to supply the goods within a reasonable time frame,” Mr Bauer said.
“This consumer paid a significant deposit expecting to receive a product which never materialised. I am pleased that the OFT was able to achieve such a high penalty in this matter.”
If consumers have paid for goods or services they have not received, they can lodge a complaint with the OFT online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).