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R v Tertsis [2023] NSWDC 442

See full judgment: Austlii.

The offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of importing tobacco with intention of defrauding the revenue contrary to s 233BABAD(1) of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth). Offending related to 16 million cigarettes with a customs duty of $17,904,800.

Nature and Circumstances: Offender was not an architect or instigator or significant beneficiary of the plan. Offender was subject to the direction of others who had a more senior role than them. However, offender played an important and trusted facilitating role. Offender had clear knowledge, well before the first shipment and throughout the process of the second shipment, that the true intention was to import tobacco products with the intention of defrauding the revenue. While offender may not have known the exact quantity of cigarettes or the exact amount of duty avoided, they knew that there was a very large quantity and that the duty sought to be avoided would also be very large. There was a degree of sophistication to offending by reason of the use of companies, multiple bank accounts and false documents. It cannot be said that the offending was only part of a small-scale or short term operation. Offending falls comfortably within the mid-range of objective seriousness.

Contrition: Although offender has pleaded guilty to the offence, there appears to have been a fairly strong case against them, and so their plea of guilty is not much more than an acceptance of the inevitable. The Sentencing Assessment Report notes that offender expressed some insight into the harm that unvetted tobacco might have involved, if it had gone into the community. However, offender also tried to minimise their role and knowledge when speaking to the author of the Sentencing Assessment Report, claiming ignorance of what was in the container. On the other hand, offender is supported by a letter from the Chaplain at Bathurst Correctional Centre, which says they wish to amend their life and not return to prison. On balance, there is some, although limited, contrition.

Offender sentenced to 3 years and 3 months of imprisonment with a non-parole 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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