$10k fine for businessman after going bankrupt
A FORMER Fraser Coast man has been left bankrupt and copped a hefty fine after failing to make good on customer orders.
John Trevelyan Radonic pleaded guilty to 20 counts of wrongfully accepting payment under Australian Consumer Law.
Radonic failed to fulfil multiple orders made to his two workwear businesses after accepting payments between March 2017 and June 2017.
The former owner of Hervey Bay businesses Workwear and Boots Discount Direct and Signature Uniforms, which have both since closed, had Go To Court Lawyers' Laura Turner appear by phone link on his behalf in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on Thursday.
The court heard consumers who had paid for goods either received no products or only received partially completed orders.
This included 16 affected customers who ordered and paid for work boots that were never received.
Another customer had ordered 48 high-visibility shirts but did not receive a portion of the order which cost approximately $152.
An Office of Fair Trading representative said throughout this time consumers were unable to get into contact with Radonic, which Ms Turner explained was because Radonic had moved to Hobart to take over the care of his 15-year-old grandson.
Ms Turner told the court during the offending period, Radonic's daughter "went off the rails" with drug and mental health issues and Radonic also separated from his partner of 12 years.
"He instructs his business did progress quite rapidly and it got to a point where he was struggling to keep up," Ms Turner said.
"His intention was to wind business up completely, but someone approached him to purchase the equipment and he was looking to keep his employees employed."
The court heard Radonic regretted not properly finalising the business closure.
"When the new purchasers purchased the equipment they also bought a computer which contained all the information in relation to the consumers," Ms Turner said.
"Unfortunately, there was a fire some four days later, which meant all the data was lost.
"He instructed his staff to let all consumers know they could go to their bank for a refund.
"He didn't have enough money in the account because of the business closing down to make the repayments so there was an arrangement with his bank, NAB, if people approached their own banks NAB would repay them using the equity in his home."
The Office of Fair Trading said, in total, affected consumers were out of pocket $5940.
Other consumers were able to lodge a dispute with their financial institution to receive reimbursements totalling $1281.
Ms Turner said the 65-year-old had no criminal history or previous dealings with the Office of Fair Trading.
"There were issues with serving because he left to Tasmania so quickly, however, once he became aware of the charges he contacted the OFT and offered to pay the outstanding amounts to customers which has been completed," she said.
"Of the 20 charges, nine of those didn't obtain a refund but the others did through their banks.
"It was a very stressful and emotional time for him, he did lose his home and went bankrupt in February of 2018.
"He has suffered a great deal himself, losing approximately $600,000 and now has no assets."
In sentencing, Magistrate Stephen Guttridge considered Radonic's early plea and lack of criminal history.
He noted the trader had refunded consumers the day before court proceedings.
Radonic was fined $10,000 referred to the State Penalty Enforcement Registry, with no conviction recorded.