The other $19,500 will go to the state, a magistrate ruled this week.
Mr Amarsinghe was tidying the ground floor toilets back in August 2011 when he found a sanitary bin flush with $510 and $100 notes. “There was too much to count – I thought someone was playing a prank on me,” he said. “But when I touched the notes – all yellow and green – I realised it was real money.”
The stunned worker immediately called his supervisor, and before long police and a plumber pulled more than $100,000 from that Bourke St bathroom – $1200 of it plucked from the pipes.
The suspicious stash sent investigators scrambling. But police were never able to establish the origin of the cash, and no one ever came forward to claim it.
And so this week, the cleaner-turned-fast food worker, who’s now studying IT in New Zealand, received a phone call to say the haul was his.
“I was speechless,” Mr Amarsinghe said. On Tuesday, in ordering the bulk of the cash should go to Mr Amarsinghe, magistrate Michael Smith said: “There’s no reason why such honesty should go unrewarded.”
Detective Senior Constable Daniel Thorne, who investigated the case, agreed. “All the guys in the office felt the same. He’s a struggling student who straight-up didn’t even think of pocketing it,” Sen-Constable Thorne told the Herald Sun.
The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard that Sydney man Emerald Nguyen was charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime over the mystery cash haul. But following a doctor’s report, in which Mr Nguyen claimed he had been involuntarily drug affected and had no knowledge of the money coming into or leaving his possession, baffled investigators dropped the charges. Mr Nguyen also signed a notice of abandonment, declaring he had no stake in the mystery haul.
His windfall was the second piece of wonderful news for Mr Amarsinghe this week: he also learned that he had been granted permanent residency in Australia.
“I just want to spend my life in a normal way, find a job in IT and carry out that dream,” he said.
The money, he said, was a blessing. While he didn’t know how he would spend it all, some would go to helping disabled people and some to a Buddhist temple in Berwick.
“I’m really, really lucky. I’m not going to waste it,” he said. (Herald Sun)