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DPP v Castles [2020] VCC 1967

The offender was convicted following a plea of guilty to three counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception from a Commonwealth entity, contrary to s 134.2(1) Commonwealth Criminal Code. Offences relate to defrauding of $70,327.91 from the Department of Human Services. Additional offence of failure to comply with a condition of a Commonwealth recognizance release order.

Nature and Circumstances: While offender made no secret of financial activities or relationship with Mr Castles, offender continued deception in brazen and audacious manner for approximately 6 years. Offending is clear example of greed, not need. Offending represents egregious example of obtaining financial advantage by deception.

Specific Deterrence: Offender had significant and relevant prior criminal history, with majority relating to dishonesty offending and includes convictions for perjury, false documents, theft and defrauding Commonwealth. Offending occurred while offender was subject to recognizance release order as a result of being sentenced for similar offending, involving a number of charges of dishonestly obtaining a benefit to which the offender was not entitled amounting to $140,000 obtained over approximately 20 years. Offending occurred over significant period and can only be attributed to greed.

Contrition:There is little evidence of genuine remorse. Comments made by offender seemed to be linked to consequences of conduct on themselves and their children. While offender is regretful for conduct, and has taken responsibility by pleading guilty, there is no evidence of appreciation of impact that conduct has on community and the pressure it places on the social security system which is designed for people in need.

Mental Condition: Offender met criteria of suffering dependent personality disorder with borderline features. None of the diagnoses have causative link to offending however there is likely risk of conditions deteriorating in custody. Sentencing judge accepted that Verdins limbs 5 and 6 have application in relation to offender’s disorders.

Family and Dependents: While sentencing judge accepted family would suffer hardship if offender was imprisoned, hardship did not amount to exceptional hardship. The family had recent involvement from CASA, Peninsular Health and DHHS, each of which have an understanding of the family history and associated risks to children.

Offender sentenced to 3 years imprisonment to be released on recognisance release order after 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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