Australian Prison Worker Stole and Gambled With $80k Belonging to Inmates

  • Brenton Williams gambled over $700,000 in one casino in 2022
  • Williams said he had incurred $166,000 in debt from managing a struggling pub
  • Prosecutors want to send a message with a harsh punishment
  • Williams pled guilty and is facing up to 10-15 years in prison
Alcatraz prison cell block
A prison general manager in Australia gambled nearly $80,000 he stole from inmates. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Australian prison employee gambled with stolen money

A former general manager of an Australian prison is facing jail time for stealing nearly $80,000 from inmates he then used to gamble.

Brenton Williams, formerly of Adelaide Remand Centre operator Serco, admitted to stealing AUD$112,000 ($79,279) from a safe used to hold prisoners’ money. The money was illegally taken from April 27-July 27, 2022.

he risked over AUD$1m ($707,975) at the Adelaide Casino

The prosecution also shined light on William’s troubling gambling history. From January-July of the same year, he risked over AUD$1m ($707,975) at the Adelaide Casino.

Guilty by admission

Williams pled guilty in court to stealing the money from the inmates. 

The defense told the court that Williams moved to Perth without his family to work for Serco on a salary of AUD$250,000 ($176,944). After he completed the move, COVID lockdown protocols went into place, causing what the defense described as a great strain on his mental well-being.

“[Lockdown] created a huge stress on him, being away from family, not being able to travel back,” Williams’ representation, Christopher Weir, said.

he had fallen AUD$234,000 ($165,666) into debt in 2022

The defendant’s large salary was overshadowed by a struggling pub he managed, known as Stirling North. According to records, he had fallen AUD$234,000 ($165,666) into debt in 2022, which led to him considering bankruptcy. 

Williams, however, was scared that taking that step would lead to him losing his job at Serco. So, rather than submitting the paperwork, he attempted to use casinos and gambling as a way to dig his way out of the financial hole. 

As that proved tricky, he also turned to the Adelaide center’s prisoner vault. Weir said that his client planned on returning the money if he could and knows that he was “foolish” in hindsight.

Tough times behind bars

Williams is not being held in general population, given his previous status within the prison system. However, the prosecution is hoping he will be met with a serious penalty, as they do not want to encourage criminal behavior for people in positions of power within the legal system. They have also requested he not be allowed to rest at home until trial.

Weir told Judge Jo-Anne Deuter that his client has been “depressed” during “tough” times behind bars and had to be moved to the high dependency unit after attempting to take his life twice.

“He’s done his best as a remandee to address his gambling problem,” said Weir. “This is a man with very good, if not excellent, prospects of rehabilitation, and a man who is deeply sorry.”

had been treated for gambling addiction from 2002-03

As a counterpoint, prosecuting attorney James Watson shared with the court that Williams had been treated for gambling addiction from 2002-03. They are referring to his recent actions as a “breach of trust.”

Williams will return to court for sentencing in March under the charge of theft. The penalty for theft in Australia is ten years imprisonment, which can be extended to 15 years if it is deemed “aggravated” theft.