Businessman Renato ‘Rennie’ De Maria is more accustomed to private jets, high-performance sports cars and regular holidays on the Italian Riviera, after founding an insurance broking empire 25 years ago.
But the 54-year-old, who is currently under investigation by the corporate regulator, appeared last week before the Mansfield Magistrates’ Court where he pleaded guilty to circulating an intimate image of his ex-wife in what was described as an act of “ sheer gutlessness”.
De Maria admitted to setting up a WhatsApp group called ‘Good Luck’ on May 11, 2021, before including at least five friends of his former wife. He then shared 34 images with the group, including a private correspondence between the pair and an intimate photo of his former wife, without her consent.
During an interview with officers at Mansfield police station on May 20 last year, De Maria said he had been drinking heavily at the time of the incident and had taken prescription medication.
Barrister Rahmin de Kretser, acting for De Maria, urged magistrate Peter Mithen to spare his client a conviction because it could prevent him from traveling to the US, where he has business interests.
De Kretser also said De Maria was a proud father and successful businessman, who had raised millions of dollars for charity.
A witness impact statement from De Maria’s ex-wife, which was read to the court, said she suffered from “stress, anxiety and depression, and I have a constant sick feeling about how I was degraded”.
She relocated following the incident.
Mithen convicted De Maria on two charges relating to the publication of the image and a breach of a family violence intervention order. De Maria was issued with a $1500 fine.