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DPP (Cth) v El Masri [2022] VCC 549

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 (Cth).

Nature and Circumstances: While offending was not highly sophisticated and offender was not a principal in the importation, in the sense of being an organising mind or the person to receive profits directly from the sale of the cigarettes, offender had a managerial role in relation to the container once it arrived in Australia. Amount of duty evaded, $8,648,983.64, and number of cigarettes imported, $10,714,000, was extremely large. Offending is a large-scale example of this sort of offending. Offending involved planning, premeditation, organisation and the deployment of resources.

Family and Dependants: Hardship to offender’s family was taken into account as mitigating factors. Offender has 2 children with serious medical conditions, offender’s wife will be left caring for 6 children, offender has responsibility to look after their mother and there will be significant financial hardship relating to a $200,000 mortgage still owing on the family home. Offender personally runs and maintains three businesses and has an essential role in the material, logistical and emotional support of their immediate and extended family.

Delay: Delay of 3 years since being arrested and charged has caused the offender stress and anxiety, particularly knowing a period of imprisonment was looming, that they would be leaving their wife and children in an invidious financial position and concerned about the health of their children and mother.

Rehabilitation: Offender has good prospects for rehabilitation. Offender has responsibilities to their children and has every reason to avoid further offending. Offender has taken responsibility for offending through their guilty plea and has no history of prior convictions. General deterrence is a paramount factor but in this case the discount for offender’s guilty plea must be significant as it avoided a complicated trial. Offender’s first sentence of imprisonment will weigh extremely heavily on them in their circumstances.

Offender sentenced to 3 years imprisonment to be released after 18 months upon entering a recognisance release order of $2,000 for a period of 18 months.
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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