Former Toast owner burned financially by ex-partner

THE former owner of Toast cafe has described the terrible moment when he realised he had been financially burned by his business associate and ex-partner.

Vince Rovere, now the owner of Retro Espresso in Tiaro, along with another investor, put about $40,000 from their superannuation towards purchasing the building next to Toast in Bazaar St.

His former partner Ashley Sabelburg contributed about $9500 from his superannuation toward the venture, while a fourth man was part of the agreement, but did not contribute any money.

The building was sold in 2014 and the $134,000 resulting from the sale went into a superannuation trust fund.

This week Sabelburg was sentenced to a year behind bars when he pleaded guilty to 13 counts of fraud after he cleaned out a significant portion of the trust fund belonging to the four men.

The court heard Sabelburg and the fourth man, who had contributed no money to the arrangement, had taken most of the money from the trust fund.

The fourth man, who did not received jail time, took about $26,000 while Sabelburg took between $116,000 and $125,000.

Mr Rovere told the Chronicle of the moment he checked the balance and found there was less than $200 remaining.

He said he felt gutted and could not believe what had happened.

Worse, the second investor, who had also brought about $40,000 to the venture, was a close friend and Mr Rovere said he felt terrible that the money had been stolen from him.

The court heard Sabelburg withdrew the money over 13 separate transactions, some as low as $1500 and some as high as $20,000.

The court heard Sabelburg became anxious as his financial position deteriorated.

Defence barrister Paul Rutledge said his client had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was young and his financial situation saw his mental health suffer.

"He turned to drugs, spending money on cocaine," he said.

Sabelburg also used the money to buy a car, the court was told.

"His world was collapsing around him, he took out a bit of money of living expenses," Mr Rutledge said.

"In this condition he just wasted it, bought a car, spent some of it on drugs, went totally bankrupt and lost everything."

Sabelburg was given a three year head sentence for the 13 fraud offences.

He will serve a year behind bars and will then have a suspended sentence with an operational period of three years.