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DPP v Milla [2020] VCC 546

sentence — 1 count of dishonestly causing loss or risk to Commonwealth knowing or believing loss would occur or there was substantial risk of loss occurring offence contrary to s 135.1(5) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, 1 count of dishonestly causing loss to Commonwealth offence contrary to s 135.1(3) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code — offences relate to $990,820 and $9,618.90 respectively — character — s 16A(2)(m) — offender has no prior criminal history and committed no subsequent offences — character references make it clear present offending out of character for offender — accordingly, offender to be sentenced as person of otherwise good character — nature and circumstances of the offence — s 16A(2)(a) — offender was sole director secretary and shareholder of SHG — while to some extent offender a ‘nominal’ director, offender willingly carried out their part in overall tax evasion scheme — offender played critical role and by plea has admitted acting dishonestly throughout the charged period — moral culpability assessed as being relatively high — while offender was not instigator of scheme gives rise to charges nonetheless offender must have had some awareness of what was occurring and offender played part in scheme as directed by others — offences were continuing ones committed over almost 34 month period — Count 1 involves serious offending and significant sentence of imprisonment is called for in order to give effect to principles of denunciation general deterrence and just punishment — reparation — s 16A(2)(f)(i) — offender made reparation to ATO in amount sought by it of $247,705 — this is relevant to offender’s level of remorse and extent of loss suffered by Commonwealth as result of offending conduct — also specific mitigating factor — general deterrence — s 16A(2)(ja) — detection was made more difficult by payment of cash wages and employment of sub-contractors which had effect of shifting tax burden to entity that did not take responsibility for payment of its taxation obligations — investigation and prosecution of fraudulent scheme was complex, difficult, time consuming and resource intensive — those who systematically defraud revenue of large sums of money over extended period must in general expect to receive sentence of imprisonment — guilty plea — s 16A(2)(g) — pleas were entered at earliest forensically reasonable opportunity — pleas have significant utilitarian benefit considering likely length and complexity of any trial — pleas also indicate acceptance of responsibility for offending conduct and willingness to facilitate course of justice — contrition —  s 16A(2)(f)(ii) — true contrition and remorse evident from payment of large sum of money by way of reparation and expressions of remorse to employer and others as evidenced in testimonials tendered — delay — considerable systemic delay occasioned by progress of proceedings through courts, judge’s personal circumstances and effects of COVID-19 pandemic — offender has had matters hanging over them since February 2015 — since plea hearing 19 months ago offender has had very real prospect of sentence of imprisonment with component of immediate incarceration hanging over head — undoubtedly this would have caused significant stress and anxiety and contributed to breakdown in relationship and loss of employment — pleas of guilty and delay call for significant leniency — rehabilitation — s 16A(2)(n) — so far as rehabilitation during period of delay is concerned, offender lived exemplary life — sentencing judge assesses prospects of rehabilitation as being excellent — sentence — 3 years’ imprisonment imposed and $2500 fine, offender immediately released on recognisance release order — s 6AAA — sentencing judge would have imposed sentence of 5 years imprisonment with 3 year non-parole period but for offender’s guilty plea
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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