Predatory accountant jailed for ripping off clients
A serial fraudster who stole millions of dollars from investors who considered him family will not be eligible for parole until he is 80.
But the victims of his sustained frauds celebrated the lengthy prison sentence, saying it was justice served.
Peter Dunham will turn 76 on Wednesday, his first full day behind bars as he begins an eight year and two month sentence for scamming millions of dollars.
The former high-flying accountant still owes millions to his investors, some of whom are trying to gain access to a Donald Bradman cap owned by Dunham but held by the State Library, to pay off his debts.
On Tuesday, District Court Judge Paul Muscat said Dunham's lies and deceit had stretched for years and had severely impacted the lives of his victims.
Dressed in an Australian Institute of Sport windcheater, Dunham was expressionless as he was told he will spend his non-parole period of four and a half years in prison.
Outside court, Anne Margrie said Dunham, who was their accountant, had left her nothing.
"We were trusting clients of his, we had to sell our home because of what he did," she said.
"It has taken many years by we think he has finally got what he deserves.
"We had left money owing on the house on his advice for when we retired and there wasn't any money there, just lies and deceit.
"We were trusting and had personal guarantees but they weren't worth the paper they were written on.
"It has been really sad, he has hurt a lot of people along the way, not just us as individuals but families as well."
Dunham was initially charged with 37 theft and deception charges spanning 2008 to 2015.
They included offences against private investors, as well as businesses and Australian Masters Athletics Incorporated, of which he was the Treasurer for several years.
Just before his trial was planned to commence, Dunham entered guilty pleas to many of the charges on the condition that others were to be dropped.
Judge Muscat was scathing of Dunham's decision to drag on the criminal proceedings for four years.
"These are people who knew you for many years and considered you their friend and trusted you," he said.
"Your victims had to endure the emotional and financial stress of that wait."
The court heard during sentencing submissions that Dunham had used the money he had taken from investors to buy properties in North Adelaide.
His lawyer Phil Crowe said that his client had a grand plan to repay the stolen money when the investments came to fruition.
But a marriage breakdown and the Global Financial Crisis brought that all crashing down.
Dunham paid back $810,000 of the $1.5 million he was charged with stealing, but the court heard that there were millions of dollars of unpaid debts which had not been charged.
One investor alone was still owed more than $500,000 by Dunham.
Originally published as Predatory accountant jailed for ripping off clients