22 December, 2014. 13:12
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
A SANTA AT Western Sydney shopping centre has been arrested in front of horrified shoppers this morning.
In a mid-morning operation, police swooped on the suspect while he was working as a Santa at Westfield Parramatta.
Police allowed the man to change out of his costume to minimise the trauma to the children and other shoppers.
The accused, Stephen Dale Scott, was detained by detectives from Task Force Credo after being charged with insider trading and corruption offenses.
It is alleged by NSW Police and ICAC that Mr Scott used his position in his family’s plumbing business to obtain a financial benefit through adversely affecting the official functions of Sydney Water Corporation, where he worked as a contractor.
Mr Scott started working as a Santa after he was dismissed from his family’s business for being “totally unreliable” and “perennially late”.
In recent weeks ICAC investigators have been taking statements over a particular construction deal in which Mr Scott was engaged as a consultant – including expenses incurred in other business pursuits in claims made on SWC for work on the North West Growth Centre.
Lawyers for Mr Scott have released a statement saying that their client “vehemently denies all charges” and vows to clear his name.
“Officers from Task Force Credo detained my client while he was working as a Santa, which was totally unnecessary,” says lawyer Michael Donaldson.
“The charges were completely unrelated to his position within Westfield and the arrest has irreparably damaged his character and future career prospects,”
“People often jump to conclusions and assume the worst when people working with children are arrested.” he said.
A spokesman for the NSW Police says that the force will not apologise for protecting the public.
“Mr Scott is a danger to society and we removed him from it as soon as we got the arrest warrant,” says the spokesman.
“Insider trading costs the economy over a billion dollars each year – or one hundredth the damage caused by alcohol,”
“The NSW police and ICAC acted in a correct and lawful manner regarding the arrest of Mr Scott and we will not be apologising for anything.”
Mr Scott is due to appear briefly in court tomorrow for a bail hearing.