Employee theft: Boss ‘would have taken a bullet’ for worker who ripped him off

The manager of transport company Summerland says he would have taken a bullet for the former employee who betrayed his trust and stole from the company.

Summerland Express Freight general manager Grant Lowe told the Alexandra District Court yesterday “sometimes the person you’d take a bullet for is the person behind the trigger”.

He fired those words directly at his former employee Ross John Murdoch when delivering his victim impact statement.

The 31-year-old Moa Creek man appeared for sentence before Judge Michael Turner on charges of accessing a computer system without authorisation and burglary.

The offending happened about 10.15pm on October 29, 2019 at the Summerland Express Freight yard in Cromwell after Murdoch hacked into the company’s vehicle tracking system to locate a truck called the Green Goddess and steal $10,000 worth of cigarettes.

Murdoch, who was a former Summerland employee, used another worker’s login details to access the company’s computer system and pinpoint the truck.

Murdoch went to its trailer and removed three boxes of cigarettes.

He initially told police he had not been in Cromwell, and his phone accidentally went on to Summerland’s system but phone records showed Murdoch had travelled from Moa Creek to Cromwell on October 29, returning home at 10.51pm.

In his victim impact statement, Lowe told Murdoch the family-owned company had reached out to help the father-of-three because they could “see he was struggling” and he had become part of the fabric of his family.

That included attending a family wedding and the family offering him support after the burglary.

When it was revealed Murdoch was responsible for the burglary, it “broke our hearts”, Lowe said.

The hurt of knowing “the theft was committed by someone we cared deeply about” was compounded by the ripple effects.

“We noticed we were being unfriended on Facebook … we were treated like we were the criminals.”

Murdoch’s subsequent explanations had quickly spread around the tight-knit Cromwell community and made matters worse, Lowe said as he addressed him personally.

Judge Turner described the statement as “very heartfelt” and asked Murdoch whether he wanted to respond.

Murdoch declined to say anything beyond “sorry”.

Judge Turner said he accepted Judge Jim Large’s sentencing indication delivered at Murdoch’s last appearance in October but there was a subsequent drink-driving matter of 1135mcg per litre of breath following his appearance in court to also be dealt with.

He would deal with him by way of a concurrent sentence, Judge Turner told Murdoch.

On the burglary charge he was sentenced to seven months’ home detention, three months’ home detention for unlawfully accessing a computer system, on the drink-driving he was sentenced to three weeks’ home detention, making a total sentence of seven months.

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