Security guard jailed for cash machine raid

File image. © Andrew Bardwell

Disgraced security guard Tony John Williams came to court with a $37,818 cheque to pay for his shopping spree with money stolen from an ATM he was meant to be protecting.

Christchurch District Court Judge Tom Gilbert accepted the money as reparation, and then jailed 38-year-old Williams for two years two months.

He refused a request from defence counsel Shannon-Leigh Litt for a sentencing delay to allow an address to be checked for suitability home detention, or an assessment for Williams to go into an alcohol residential rehabilitation course.

He also refused a defence submission that Williams’ alcohol abuse be taken into account. He said the Sentencing Act ruled alcohol abuse out as a mitigating factor.

He told Williams: “This was not an offence born of drunken stupidity. It was a well-planned heist.”

Williams had admitted the burglary charge in May and his sentencing has been delayed repeatedly while addresses were checked for their suitability for home detention. Judge Gilbert made it clear today that he was ruling out home detention as an option anyway.

He said the offending was highly premeditated, was a gross abuse of trust, and it involved “an awful lot of money”.

Williams was an employee of the nationwide security company, Armourguard, in January when he went into a laundromat at 2.07am, using a key and alarm codes taken from his work and unlocked the rear of a bank’s ATM machine before removing two cassettes containing $50 and $20 notes – cash totalling $179,300.

He dumped the cassettes in a stream at Halswell and resigned from the security firm three days after the burglary.

When police spoke to him, he led them to where he had buried $130,000 cash in the garden. He also had $10,000 hidden inside the address.

Police recovered $141,331 from his address and his vehicle, but Williams had already spent about $38,000 on groceries, cigarettes, alcohol, flights, tattoos, concert tickets and other goods and services. He also paid off his personal debt.

The police sought forfeiture of a piano, a $1300 drone, and the concert tickets he bought using stolen cash.

Miss Litt said the reparation money had been provided by Williams’ family. His parents were in court to support him. He wanted to serve home detention at their home.

The probation officer who interviewed Williams ahead of his sentencing said they could discern “no real remorse”, and Miss Litt detailed two grievances Williams had against his former employer over workplace injuries.

She alleged the company had verbally threatened him to get him to write a letter saying that ligment damage to a foot had not happened at work. She said he had injured his back because he was told to lift large bags of coins, and had to take time off work. “The company made him do certain things that were in breach of the health and safety rules,” she said.

She said all the stolen money had been recovered or was being repaid as reparations. Williams had co-operated with the police and had pleaded guilty early.

Police prosecutor Roberta Tainui said the offending had been sophisticated and had involved knowledge he gained from working at the firm.

Judge Gilbert said the offending had affected Armourguard by damaging its credibility in the security industry, and it had led to them facing higher insurance premiums, as well as the costs of their own investigation.

He noted that the firm’s relationship with the bank involved had survived. If it had not survived, there would likely have been significant job losses at the firm.

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