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Couple’s ‘lavish lifestyle’ funded by brazen Bunnings scam

Andrew Alasdair Ryan, 47, and his now ex-wife Tania Leonard, 41, used proceeds from a Bunnings scam to fund their lifestyles.

Andrew Alasdair Ryan, 47, and his now ex-wife Tania Leonard, 41, used proceeds from a Bunnings scam to fund their lifestyles.

A husband and wife who defrauded Bunnings out of more than $270,000 used the cash to fund a “lavish lifestyle” that included living on an acreage “mansion” in Tamborine with horses for their two daughters.

Andrew Alasdair Ryan, 47, and his now ex-wife Tania Leonard, 41, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court on Wednesday over the operation in which they would steal items from Bunnings and either return them for cash refunds or sell the tainted property.

The pair also swindled two friends out of $25,000 and used the money to buy a show horse called Daisy Lane Huntsman for $50,000.

Tania Leonard leaves Brisbane Supreme Court after receiving a two-year suspended sentence for fraud and stealing convictions. Picture: Tara Croser.

Tania Leonard leaves Brisbane Supreme Court after receiving a two-year suspended sentence for fraud and stealing convictions. Picture: Tara Croser.

Both Ryan and Leonard were convicted of fraud, stealing and possessing a horse purchased with proceeds of crime, while Ryan was further convicted of dishonestly gaining property for himself and others worth more than $100,000.

The court heard Ryan was the mastermind behind the “sophisticated” fraudulent activity against Bunnings between January 2016 and December 2018.

His wife became aware of the scheme in 2018 and began helping him by picking him up from Bunnings in a car with fake number plates and making false returns.

Crown prosecutor Shauna Farrelly said Ryan’s modus operandi was purchasing goods from Bunnings and using that receipt to steal identical items from dozens of stores. He would also steal items when store attendants were distracted.

The acreage mansion in Mount Tamborine where Andrew Alasdair Ryan and Tania Leonard, lived. Picture: Supplied

The acreage mansion in Mount Tamborine where Andrew Alasdair Ryan and Tania Leonard, lived. Picture: Supplied

Some of the stolen goods were returned to Bunnings for cash refunds, while most were sold to friends or on Gumtree by Ryan or his associates, which included a 15-year-old boy.

“For the most part, the offending was all committed physically by Ryan and Ms Leonard is liable in the way that she aided Mr Ryan,” Ms Farrelly said.

“The offending was prolific enough to be the source of income for the family.

“The money was spent on a lavish lifestyle; the family had a holiday to America within the period of offending, they had purchases for clothing, they lived on a rented sprawling mansion on acreage with horses and horseriding activities.”

The cost of the fraud against Bunnings was at least $270,000, which includes $215,000 worth of goods sold on sites like Gumtree, $25,000 worth of false returns and $20,000 worth of products seized from their family home.

Judge Vicki Loury QC said the “overall quantum” of Ryan’s offending was likely more than $500,000 and that Leonard was “wilfully blind” to her husband’s activities until 2018 most likely because she was enjoying the spoils of them.

The scheme unravelled in November 2018 when police executed a search warrant at the “family ranch” on Waldron Road, discovering 137 items suspected of being from Bunnings including BBQs, power tools and water heaters.

The show horse Daisy Lane Huntsman, which was purchased for $50,000 using money swindled from two friends. Picture: Supplied

The show horse Daisy Lane Huntsman, which was purchased for $50,000 using money swindled from two friends. Picture: Supplied

Defence Barrister Sarah Thompson said Ryan came from a “privileged” background and had several successful businesses up until about 2010 when he began experiencing “severe financial distress”.

His income couldn’t sustain his family’s lifestyle or mortgage repayments and he began to engage in fraudulent activity about the same time as the bank foreclosed on his family home in 2012.

In 2019, Ryan was sentenced to jail for using his stepfather’s name to apply for a $210,000 loan and forging a letter to get a loan to buy a luxury car.

“Up until 2011 he lived an otherwise blameless life,” Ms Thompson said.

Leonard’s defence barrister Bernard Riley argued her co-offending was “due to the nature of the relationship that existed between them and her own somewhat idyllic version of marriage”.

He said Leonard had taken positive steps to rehabilitation – including setting up a small business that sells baked goods online – and argued she served her sentence in the community.

Judge Loury said Ryan’s offending was “motivated from greed” and took into account his previous convictions.

“Not only have you defrauded Bunnings but you have defrauded your friends,” she said.

“Your motivation was to fund the lifestyle that you and your wife enjoyed.”

Ryan was sentenced to five years and seven months in jail and was eligible for parole from Wednesday.

Leonard was given a suspended sentenced to two years’ jail and ordered to perform 150 hours of unpaid community service.

Originally published as Couple’s ‘lavish lifestyle’ funded by brazen $270k Bunnings scam




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