Oz mayor stole cash for Darth Vader voice distorter
Council funds rumpus rocks Darwin
The lord mayor of Darwin remains defiant after being found guilty of stealing council funds to buy "a fridge, underwear and a Darth Vader voice distorter", The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Peter Adamson, 47, was convicted on four charges, including "stealing and making a false statement in declaration". The court heard he'd gone on a "spending spree" with council cash "less than 24 hours before the end of the 2005/06 financial year", in the process buying "a $910 fridge and $1,800 worth of gift vouchers".
The gift vouchers were in turn used to buy "women's underwear, the Star Wars character voice distorter, and a punching bag" - all later recovered from his home or office. The fridge eventually turned up in an East Timorese thrift store*, despite Adamson's signed declaration he'd given it to a needy family. The gift vouchers, he also declared, were handed out to "various organisations for the purpose of fundraising".
It's the fridge scandal which has particularly incensed the locals. Adamson, who's been on leave since December, further fuelled the controversy when he and his missus "attended a New Year's Eve party dressed as the offending white good and a police officer".
In the end, and despite his lawyer's assertion that Adamson was "the victim of internal council backstabbing, likening him to a sacrificial lamb and his work environment to 'a pool of sharks with blood in the water'", magistrate Vince Luppino decided the defendant had "lied on a number of occasions" and duly rejected his defence.
Luppino said in his judgement: "I find that the defendant had the intention to deceive. The defendant did not intend to donate the fridge or the vouchers and instead he has used both as if they were his own property."
Emerging from court, Adamson maintained his innocence and refused to resign, declaring to reporters: "I know, myself, that I at no stage stole or have been dishonest."
He confirmed he was considering an appeal, describing it as "a very serious option". He continued: "I need to consider all those things, but the reality is at the moment I have done everything up until now in the best interests of the city.
"I was voted in by the people of Darwin and I have tried to show that leadership. Obviously, I have been very disappointed with the behaviour of many of my colleagues, anyway... I've had my day in court and we'll go from there." ®
*We assume the SMH means a thrift store in Darwin run by East Timorese, rather than a thrift shop run by East Timorese in East Timor. Mind you, stranger things have happened...