Homeless hitchhiker swindles $9000 from a string of motels

DEFRAUDING: A Bundaberg man has pleaded guilty to swindling motels and hotels across Queensland out of money, in the Dalby Magistrates Court.
DEFRAUDING: A Bundaberg man has pleaded guilty to swindling motels and hotels across Queensland out of money, in the Dalby Magistrates Court. Michael Doyle

SCAMMING his way to almost $9000 worth of food and accommodation has resulted in a 29-year-old man receiving a two-year prison sentence.

Through what was described as a sophisticated process, Bundaberg man Adam Pennell, 29, pleaded guilty to 28 charges, including 18 counts of fraud.

Dalby Magistrates Court heard yesterday Pennell's dishonesty spanned the state as he targeted motels and hotels from Charleville to Cairns.

Police prosecution told the court Pennell would regularly ring motels and hotels posing as an employer wanting to book accommodation for a worker.

The court heard Pennell would arrive for the booking under a different name with false credit card details, residential and email addresses.

The prosecutor told the court Pennell would spend time at each place, ordering breakfast or using the mini-bar, before leaving without paying.

The swindles involved businesses in Dalby, Roma, Charleville, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville.

Some were owed more than $700 by Pennell, the court was told.

The sum of his swindling amounted to $8956.96.

When police caught Pennell, they found a backpack containing a notebook full of fake names, bank accounts and addresses he used, the court heard.

Key-cards from numerous motels and hotels were found, as well as a Bank of Ireland Visa card.

The defence lawyer told the court her client was regularly homeless and would travel across the state by hitch-hiking.

Pennell, originally from Bundaberg, described himself as a loner and would defraud businesses to survive.

The prosecutor recommended a prison sentence of two years, which was accepted by the court.

Magistrate Robbie Davies said Pennell would not have the ability to pay restitution.

Mr Davies described the defendant's actions as "just disgraceful".

Pennell was sentenced to a two-year prison term and will be eligible for parole after 12 months.