Former Geraldton deputy mayor Thomas Grahame Greenaway has been sentenced to prison for six-years after he “abused a position of trust” and stole almost $3million from a Native Title fund.

Greenaway was sentenced in Geraldton District Court on November 4. He will serve 6 years and 4 months for 33 counts of stealing and one count of fraud reported The Geraldton Guardian.

In August, the prosecution said that Greenaway had “abused a position of trust” by using the Yugunga-Nya People’s Trust as his “own personal ATM machine” between June 2013 and March 2017.

The $2.9million Greenaway funnelled from the trust was alleged to be used to prop up his struggling business, The Freemasons Hotel.

Forensic accounting found that Greenaway had made multiple transfers from the trust into a company called FAWRKT Pty Ltd. This money was then moved to fund the hotel.

Transfers ranged between $10,000 and $1.4m and were paired with a “sham” loan agreement by Greenaway.

The court heard that in March 2017 alone, Greenaway funnelled $1.4million into the hotel in a “desperate attempt to legitimise and to prop-up a bad investment”.

The defence argued that Greenaway invested in the business in the interest of providing employment opportunities for the beneficiaries of the trust.

Judge McLean declined evidence that Greenaway was using the funds for employment opportunities.

“Your offending was not an isolated lapse of judgment,” he said.

“It was not impulsive. It was deliberate, methodical, planned, systemic and prolonged.

“Your offending was motivated to protect your investment in the Freemasons Hotel and was used for your personal benefit.”

The National Indigenous Times reported in September that Greenaway had pleaded not guilty at the trial and claimed that the link between the trust and the hotel was not commonly known because Geraldton was a “racist town”.

Judge McLean described this reasoning as “cynical and opportunistic” and rejected it.

Originally 70-year-old Greenaway was sentenced to 8 years, however had his sentenced reduced due to his age.

“You have obviously experienced shame and a fall from grace in your community, and that fall has been public and prominent,” Judge McLean said.

Greenaway was ordered to pay $2.1 million to the Yugunga’s Peoples’ Trust as compensation.

By Rachael Knowles