A gold company manager who plundered his employer in a $3.2 million heist while pretending to be the victim, has been jailed for more than five years.
Daniel Ede told police he'd been tied up and robbed at gunpoint after opening the Melbourne Gold Company on the morning on April 27, 2020.
But he was in on the plot, helping friend Karl Kachami take off with more than $3.2 million in gold bullion, jewellery and cash from the company safes.
Most of the loot was found buried at a property belonging to Kachami's mother at a place called Dollar, in the state's South Gippsland region.
Ede was jailed in Victoria's County Court on Friday for five years and nine months after pleading guilty to aggravated burglary and theft.
Judge David Sexton said Ede played "the hapless victim" to reap "a bounty of breathtaking proportions".
Together with Kachami, he "essentially plundered the safes at the Melbourne Gold Company" in a "brazen charade".
Days earlier, gold bullion worth up to $2.4 million had been delivered to the CBD business, alongside bundles of cash, and jewellery and watches belonging to customers.
The morning of the robbery, Ede could be seen on CCTV receiving a phone call. He disarmed the doors. Kachami walked in minutes later pushing a trolley, and wearing a hat, safety glasses and a surgical mask.
"This is a robbery," he said, pulling out a gun that wasn't loaded.
Ede led his supposed robber around various safes.
He kicked the floor near one particular safe that contained more than $4 million of gold and $600,000, in what prosecutors claimed was a covert signal.
Kachami did not notice.
Ede then got onto the floor and let himself be tied up. He told customers who came in shortly afterwards "help, I've been robbed" and called police.
Before being sentenced, he said he'd been borrowing money, living paycheque-to-paycheque and was barely keeping up with family expenses, including his children's private school fees, at the time.
He said the gold company's owner, Michael Kulkulta, was considered "the world's worst boss".
Ede, who is of Aboriginal heritage, also said he'd been subject to racial bullying, that the workplace was toxic and his pay had been cut.
He blamed the idea for the robbery on Kachami, a claim Judge Sexton found to be questionable.
"Your behaviour represented a gross violation of trust as Mr Kulkulta regarded you as a close friend for many years," the judge said.
"You simply resorted to serious criminal offending to ameliorate financial pressures."
The judge described the events of the robbery as "a day like no other" for the unfortunate victims.
He accepted Ede had suffered shame, embarrassment and anxiety as a result of his crime, and found it to be out of character for a man with no criminal history otherwise.
Kachami was jailed in November for four years, with a two-year non-parole period, after pleading guilty to theft and aggravated burglary.
Both men have been ordered by the court to repay more than $333,000 in stolen cash that remains missing.
Australian Associated Press