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Christchurch fraudster Eddie Quirke loses appeal despite claims of bank robbing father’s influence

Eddie Quirke’s father, he says, was a bank robber.

A career underworld figure with links to organised crime groups who carried out bank heists and raids on various businesses.

Young Eddie, Edward James Quirke, grew up hanging out with his dad’s shady mates. He was in awe of their exploits and, when he was bigger, wanted to emulate their lifestyle.

But by his early teens, he saw less of them.

He says he turned away from a life of crime and became involved in harness racing and running a courier business.

Then he got busted.

He was arrested, convicted, and jailed for “living out his fantasies” and stealing $1.4 million.

Eddie Quirke appealed against his jail term – 4-1/2 years behind bars – blaming his upbringing, and “long-held desires to involve himself in large-scale organised crime”.

But in new decision, released to the Herald, a judge has rejected his appeal – and found that his father’s illicit activities could not be blamed.

Eddie Quirke’s childhood fantasy has been fulfilled.

A fantasy fulfilled

He’d been a good husband and active member of the community.

But then his wife, Claire Elizabeth Quirke’s father became sick.

Robin Milligan was a joint director with his wife, Shirley Milligan, of the Milligan’s Radio (1972) Ltd business.

Claire was given access by her mother Shirley to family bank accounts to help her father Robin when he was still alive – and to help her mother after his August 1, 2016 death.

She was authorised to make payments “of a day-to-day nature”.

But she allowed her husband Eddie to take over the handling of the funds.

On the day his father-in-law died, Eddie Quirke logged into the Radio Ltd bank account without authorisation and transferred $3000 into his own personal bank account, court documents show.

Between August 1, 2016, and December 14, 2017, the couple accessed the bank accounts “on a substantial number of occasions without authority”, making 92 withdrawal transactions.

Eddie Quirke acquired passwords and PIN numbers from his wife and made electronic transfers from Shirley Milligan’s bank account or through ATM cash withdrawals.

In total, he stole approximately $1.4 million from the estate via individual withdrawals varying between $900 and $40,000.

For her part, Claire Quirke received somewhere between $93,000 and $103,000 into her account, the court heard.

Shirley Milligan would only find out about the offending two years later. Stunned, she phoned the police.

Charges were laid. For her role, which her lawyer called a “tragic” set of circumstances, Claire Quirke was sentenced to eight months of home detention and ordered to pay $30,000 in reparations.

While her lawyer said she didn’t blame her husband entirely, it was clear that he was more to blame.

Judge Tom Gilbert agreed. He took a much dimmer view of Eddie Quirke’s offending, after he had pleaded to four charges of theft and four charges of accessing a computer system for dishonest purposes.

Eddie Quirke’s defence counsel Anselm Williams said a significant amount of the stolen money had gone on online gambling.

Judge Gilbert said Eddie Quirke’s pre-sentence report was “not particularly positive” and didn’t include much remorse or awareness of the impact of his offending.

He jailed Eddie Quirke for 4-1/2 years and also ordered him to pay $30,000 in reparations – by way of selling six vehicles he owned, including an Audi, Ford Ranger ute, and Jaguar XJ which needed repairs.

Eddie Quirke appealed his sentence, claiming it was “manifestly excessive”.

And in a stunning twist, he blamed his devious exploits on his own father, and using a childhood exposed to crime to try and slash his time behind bars.

Quirke “glorified” his dad’s behaviour, defence counsel Donald Matthews said, and wanted to emulate him.

“His exposure to criminality from a young age clearly influenced him and stuck with him,” Matthews said.

A report prepared by a forensic psychologist, which was produced to the High Court at Christchurch, found that Quirke’s father was a “career criminal” with links to various organised criminal groups who had carried out heists of banks and various businesses.

Eddie Quirke, the report said, was “in awe of his father” and desired to emulate the lifestyle of his father and his criminal associates.

“Mr Quirke had long-held underlying desires to involve himself in large-scale organised crime,” the court heard.

Of particular interest to the appeal judge, Justice David Gendall, the report writer concluded that Eddie Quirke’s offending “cannot and should not be attributed to a gambling disorder”.

The report write found his gambling to be deliberate and calculated to allow him to fund an “indulgent lifestyle”.

“When access to significant funds became available at a time of financial and personal stress, it seems the offending was simply something Mr Quirke could not resist,” Justice Gendall wrote in a decision released to the Herald.

The judge also found that the forensic psychologist’s report did not show Quirke having had a background of persistent social disadvantage or systemic deprivation.

“Rather, as I see it, Mr Quirke took the opportunity to divorce himself from his father’s criminal exploits and become an involved member of the community,” Justice Gendall says.

“The apparent return of his desire to re-enact the criminal dealings of his father, from which he had long been disconnected and independent, in my view, cannot create the causal linkage between his childhood experiences and the commission of a major and continuing fraud against his vulnerable mother-in-law necessary to mitigate his culpability.”

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