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CDPP v Yang [2022] VCC 1798

The offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of importing tobacco products with the intention of defrauding the revenue contrary to s 233BABAD(1) of the Customs Act 1901.

Nature and Circumstances: Offending encompasses the importation of 3 consignments of tobacco from China. The duties and GST payable on the 3 consignments totalled $4,108,567.26. Offender was a principal in the syndicate, with their role being to facilitate the importation of the consignment by providing identities, mobile numbers and addresses to which the consignments could be set. However, offender sat no higher than Feng in the organisation. The total amount of tobacco imported and total revenue sought to be evaded were significant. The period of offending is very short and, given that each of the consignments were intercepted, there was no resultant loss to the revenue. This is a serious example of this offending, though not in the highest or most serious category.

Rehabilitation: There is no doubt that, aside from this offending and the period leading into it, offender is someone who has been in the past and is again now of good character. Offender has no prior convictions and no subsequent or pending matters. Offender has a good employment history with a real capacity for hard work. Offender has the support of their wife, family, and church. Not only does offender have excellent prospects of rehabilitation, they have already achieved that rehabilitation as reflected in the manner in which they have lived their life since March 2017.

Guilty Plea: Offender’s plea was not entered at an early opportunity, it was also not entered at the ‘doorstep’ of the trial. It has significant utilitarian value both by reason of being entered during the current climate of the pandemic and due to the complex nature of the trial. Although offender pursued both a contested committal and pre-trial argument in this matter, their plea of guilty is still reflective of a level of remorse, a full acceptance of responsibility for their offending, and a willingness to facilitate the course of justice.

Delay: It has been 6 years since offending, and the matter has been progressing through the court system for over 5 years. This is an extraordinary period of delay which is not attributable to offender in any way. Offender has had the weight of this matter hanging over their head for over 5 years. This includes not only uncertainty as to the outcome of the proceedings but also the added burden of being concerned as to the potential for deportation back to China and the persecution which offender may face there. There has been an intensification of restrictions on Christian practices in China. Secondly, offender has not committed any further offences in that time.

Hardship: Any term of imprisonment will be more burdensome on offender by reason of the current restrictions in custody which are in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Offender will not be facing an automatic cancellation of their visa by reason of this sentence, but there is  still a prospect that offender’s visa may be cancelled by reason of their failing the character test. The time offender spends in custody will be somewhat more onerous due to concerns that they may have their visa cancelled.

Offender sentenced to 10 months imprisonment to be released after 4 months upon entering recognizance of $1,000 to be of good behaviour for a period of 2 years.
The CSD acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. We acknowledge that we are on the land of the traditional owners and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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