1 March 2024

Ex-Gungahlin United president receives suspended sentence for 'breathless, inexcusable' theft from club

| Claire Fenwicke
Aaron Alexander walking outside court

Aaron Alexander (at a previous court appearance) received a suspended sentence for his thefts from the Gungahlin United Football Club. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The man who stole $23,546 while he was president of the Gungahlin United Football Club has had any further jail time suspended upon sentence.

Aaron David Alexander was previously found guilty of 65 separate charges of taking money from the club between September 2017 and June 2018.

He had some of those charges dismissed on appeal.

This meant he had 48 theft charges remaining, on which he would be sentenced.

The 52-year-old US national, who is currently living in Bungendore, had taken $8233.65 from the club’s main account to pay for his car lease, took an extra $2080.40 for payments to Telstra and Canberra road user services, and another $13,546.79 was electronically transferred to his personal and business accounts across 33 transactions.

In handing down his sentence on Friday (1 March), Magistrate Glenn Theakston described the transactions as dishonest as they hadn’t been for “club purposes”.

He found Alexander’s culpability had increased as time went on as he had “many opportunities to reconsider and stop his conduct” but chose to continue.

Magistrate Theakston described most of the offending as “spontaneous” – apart from the regular payments for the car lease – but that it became “systemic” over time, accompanied by a “breathless, inexcusable entitlement”.

“[Alexander has] no obvious remorse or contrition for his offending,” he said.

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Magistrate Theakston said not-for-profit organisations, such as the Gungahlin United Football Club, were often run by volunteers who didn’t necessarily have the qualifications for their roles and didn’t have oversights in place.

“[Such organisations] have a heavy reliance on goodwill, honesty and trust,” he said.

“This makes such organisations very vulnerable to exploitation.”

Alexander had not only been president of the club, he also solely managed the finances when there wasn’t a treasurer.

Magistrate Theakston said the set up of such organisations also meant a “charismatic personality” could insert themselves into positions of influence.

In a victim impact statement, a club representative expressed how Alexander’s offending had impacted its volunteers and the club itself.

“While his theft may have provided him with a few months of lavish living, it has created years of anguish for the club he betrayed,” a representative claimed.

“As a club and as individuals, we are still reeling and will likely continue to feel the impacts of his crime for quite some time to come.”

Alexander’s lawyers said he had experienced a “fall from grace”, was now unable to find employment, lost a relationship and his adult daughter had cut all contact with him.

Magistrate Theakston accepted Alexander had also experienced a form of public shaming for his actions through media reporting.

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While Alexander’s offending was found to be a repeated breach of trust, which elevated its seriousness “substantially”, the amount taken, while significant to the club, wasn’t significant in terms of other offending seen by the court.

He received no discount on his sentence as no guilty plea had ever been entered.

He has no relevant criminal history and was otherwise of good character, with suggestions his residency in Australia appeared “precarious” as a result of the charges.

His financial assets have been frozen, giving him no way to repay the money he stole. The club has received some insurance payments in relation to the thefts.

Magistrate Theakston handed down a suspended four-month jail sentence, to be served by way of a two-year good behaviour order. Alexander will also have to complete 160 hours of community service.

He spent a total of 15 days in jail.

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