An Edinburgh scientist who held two top government posts in Australia has been jailed for three months after admitting carrying out a £38,000 fraud.
Professor Suzanne Miller misused a corporate credit card to buy personal items including a £500 silk jacket, an electric scooter, show tickets and a drum kit.
She also used the card to transfer money into her mortgage account, to pay private school fees and to book overseas flights and accommodation in Scotland.
The 55-year-old was removed from her roles as Queensland Chief Scientist and chief executive officer of the Queensland Museum Network following an investigation by the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).
The Edinburgh-born geologist also claimed more than £23,000 of private healthcare insurance to which she was not entitled.
Miller pled guilty to fraud during a hearing at Brisbane Magistrates Court in March.
On Friday she was given a three year prison sentence, which will be suspended for good behaviour after three months. She was also ordered to repay the money.
She wrongfully claimed health insurance through her contract at the Queensland museum between February 2014 and July 2017. She claimed to be on a special talent visa that entitled her to the insurance when she was not.
She also used a government credit card to make purchases worth more than £15,000 for her personal benefit. Other items which she bought included teak furniture and an outdoor storage shed.
She also paid more than £4,000 towards her daughter’s private school fees, but later repaid that money.
Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook described Miller’s offending as “a gross abuse of high office”.
Miller was charged by the CCC in July 2017 following an investigation which saw her home and offices raided by investigators.
The charges were brought against her just hours before she had been due to appear alongside the state’s science minister before a budget committee of Queensland’s Parliament. She did not appear after news broke of the development.
Miller, who earned a salary of around £200,000 from her dual roles, was initially suspended on full pay. However, the Queensland Government have now said she is no longer an employee.
Her prison sentence will be backdated to April 5, when she handed herself into custody to avoid any delays in her sentencing hearing.
The court heard she intends to move back to Scotland when she is released to be with her husband and daughter.
As part of her bail conditions she had to surrender her UK and Australian passports and was ordered not to attend the Queensland Museum.
Miller moved from Scotland to Australia in 2007 to become director of the South Australian Museum in Adelaide. She was appointed director of the Queensland Museum Network in 2013.
The expert, who studied geology at the University of St Andrews and at Imperial College in London, made history as the first woman to hold the post of Queensland chief scientist in 2016.
Before leaving Scotland, she worked at the National Museum of Scotland for 12 years, latterly as keeper of natural sciences.
A spokesman for the Queensland Government’s Department of Justice said: “Suzanne Miller was sentenced to three years imprisonment, suspended after three months. She was placed on a three-year good behaviour bond. Her 26 days in pre-sentence custody was taken into account.
“A conviction was recorded and she was ordered to pay restitution of $75,519.71.”