FOUR Irish backpackers have been left penniless in the Australian Outback after a co-worker cleaned out their bank accounts.
Paul Gibney, Shane Ains-worth and Richie Corrigan, all from Swords, north Dublin, and Carina Laverty from Dunwiley, Co Donegal, have been working for several months in a remote farming area called Gnaraloo Station, Western Australia.
Each week, workers take turns to travel two hours to the nearest town in Carnarvon to get provisions and supplies for those back at base.
Last Wednesday, one of their Australian co-workers left with the bank cards and pin numbers of six employees at the station.
However, he never returned and within a few hours had withdrawn nearly $3,000 (€2,360) from all six bank accounts.
The alarm was raised when one of the Australian employees discovered $800 had been withdrawn from his account.
Carina Laverty's mother, Mary, said her 23-year-old daughter had been working without pay for more than two months in the hope of getting her visa extended.
She said the group from Ireland had worked with the suspect for nearly five weeks and considered him a friend and someone they could trust.
Police arrested a man in Albany, Western Australia, at the weekend and he will appear in court at the end of the month.