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R v Karam [2020] VCC 496

sentence — 1 count of dishonestly causing loss to Commonwealth offence contrary to s 135.1(3) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, 1 count of dishonestly causing loss or risk of loss to Commonwealth knowing or believing that loss would occur or that there was substantial risk of loss occurring offence contrary to s 135.1(5) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code — offences relate to $12,948 and $1 million respectively — mental condition — s 16A(2)(m) — while mental health diagnosis not causally connected to offending conduct, it is relevant to offender’s personal circumstances — Verdins principle 6 is applicable to offender and sentenced accordingly — character — s 16A(2)(m) — relevant prior criminal history including 3 appearances involving dishonesty — given prior criminal history, specific deterrence and protection of community must be given some real weight in sentencing offender for offences — nature and circumstances of the offence — s 16A(2)(a) — offender held managerial position, sole director, secretary and shareholder — while offender not instigator of scheme, must have had some awareness of what was occurring and played part in scheme as directed by others — offences continued 30 month period — serious offending — offender vulnerable, unsophisticated and relatively unintelligent who was preyed upon by — reduces moral culpability particularly in relation to offending conduct giving rise to count 2 — having dissipated any financial gains received from crimes sentencing judge accepted that offender derived little long-term financial benefit from crimes — no evidence of offender living extravagant lifestyle during period of offending — general deterrence — s 16A(2)(ja) — detection more difficult by payment of cash wages and employment of sub-contractors, shifting tax burden to entities that did not take responsibility for payment of taxation obligations — investigation and prosecution of fraudulent scheme of which offender was a part 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) — offender pleaded guilty at late stage in proceedings — pleas entered at earliest forensically reasonable opportunity —significant utilitarian benefit considering likely length and complexity of trial — pleas also indicate acceptance of responsibility for offending conduct and willingness to facilitate course of justice — contrition — s 16A(2)(f)(ii) — sentencing judge unable to make finding that offender demonstrated true contrition and remorse over and above that which is evident from pleas themselves — delay — considerable systemic delay occasioned by progress of proceedings through courts, sentencing judge’s personal circumstances and effects of COVID-19 pandemic — matters have been hanging over offender for period of well over 5 years — rehabilitation — s 16A(2)(n) — so far as rehabilitation during period of delay is concerned considering subsequent offending sentencing judge unable to accept offender has rehabilitated themselves — can only assess prospects of rehabilitation as being highly problematic and dependent on becoming drug free and remaining so — sentence — imposed 3 years’ and 4 months imprisonment, offender immediately released on recognisance release order — s 6AAA — sentencing judge would have imposed sentence of 5 years and 6 months imprisonment with 3 year and 8 months non-parole period but for offender’s guilty plea
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