Gold thief who stole four kilograms that ‘fell out of machine’ wanted to surprise wife with Greek holiday
Cresp stole $200,000 worth of gold while working at Sunrise Dam gold mine. (Supplied: WA Police)
A Kalgoorlie man who stole more $200,000 worth of gold from a mine in Western Australia’s northern Goldfields has avoided an immediate jail term.
Joseph Andrew Cresp, 52, was working at the Sunrise Dam Gold Mine, 1,000 kilometres north-east of Perth, when he stole the gold in February last year.
The Court was told Cresp had been working on a pump at the mine’s mill during a routine shutdown when a pile of dirt containing nearly four kilograms of gold fell out of one of the sumps.
Prosecutor Fiona Clare said Cresp hid the gold in his locker, walking out of the mine with it, driving home to Kalgoorlie and hiding it in his gun safe.
“He saw the gold sitting there and wanted to surprise his wife for her birthday,” Ms Clare said.
She said Cresp had envisioned using the gold to fund a family holiday to Greece.
Charged with fraud and stealing as a servant, Cresp pleaded guilty to both offences midway through last year.
But a combination of trying personal circumstances and an extraordinary degree of co-operation saw him granted a two-year suspended sentence by the District Court on Monday.
Blundered attempt at sale alerted police
Detectives from the WA Police Gold Stealing Detection Unit (GSDU) swooped on Cresp in June last year after he on-sold $90,000 of the stolen gold in Perth.
Ms Clare said Cresp approached a gold trader in Perth’s eastern suburbs, offloading a kilogram of the precious metal.
But when the trader attempted to sell it to the Perth Mint and could not provide its origin, Mint staff alerted police.
Describing her client’s actions as a “brain explosion”, defence lawyer Kim Samiotis said Cresp had been dealing with financial stress, undiagnosed depression and a sick daughter in the lead up to the theft.
She said Cresp spent only $6,000 of his $90,000 windfall on a holiday, servicing his car and financial support for his eldest daughter.
“The [remaining] gold remained in his safe, untouched,” she said.
Ms Samiotis said her client always intended to return the gold and money, co-operating fully with GSDU detectives when they raided his home in May.
While the Court was told Cresp immediately regretted stealing the gold, he still attempted to fraudulently sell it.
Co-operation to identify security risks
After his confession, Cresp entered mediation with both the gold trader he defrauded and the owners of Sunrise Dam, South African mining giant Anglogold Ashanti.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge John Staude acknowledged that the 52-year-old had worked with the company’s representatives to identify and fix security risks his theft exposed.
Judge Staude said Anglogold representatives were initially sceptical that Cresp had managed to steal that much gold in one swoop.
But once the company realised the magnitude of the security breach, he said AngloGold had flown Cresp to Perth at their own expense to ensure the sessions were completed.
“They expressed regret a person they had trusted was lost to the company,” Judge Staude said.
Actions opportunistic, not sinister: Judge
Judge Staude said Cresp’s obvious contrition, including returning the gold and working to repay the outstanding money, counted in his favour.
He said neither of the 52-year-old’s victims would be out of pocket as a result.
“You succumbed to temptation,” Judge Staude said.
“In doing so, your family has been disgraced and your family has been embarrassed.”
Judge Staude acknowledged strong penalties were put in place to deter other would-be gold thieves.
But he said the 52-year-old’s actions were opportunistic, rather than explicitly criminal, and a prison term would cause undue hardship to Cresp’s family.
“In another case, perhaps involving a person with more sinister intent or a less-developed conscience, the gold would have been lost forever,” he said.
Judge Staude ordered $75,744 be repaid to Anglogold and $8,255 to the gold trader Cresp defrauded, with the remaining 2.5kg of gold to be returned to the mining company.