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R v Wallis [2022] ACTSC 140

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 2 counts of dishonestly causing a loss to a Commonwealth entity contrary to s 135.1(3) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 1 count of intentionally using a forged document to obtain a gain contrary to s 145.1(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Guilty Plea: The pleas of guilty were entered shortly after a criminal case conference convened. The trial would have been one of considerable complexity and would have used considerable resources of the Court and the CDPP. In the circumstances, it is appropriate to allow a discount of some 20 per cent.

Nature and Circumstances: The first count is based on offender’s misuse of a CSIRO credit card over a period of some 3 years for purchases in amounts totalling $71,892.47. The second count is based on offender’s use of CSIRO funds to pay for a gym membership and personal trainer sessions valued at approximately $5,275. The third count is undoubtedly the most serious. Offender purchased a Lexus and Toyota HiLux and arranged for the invoice to be presented in such a way as to persuade an officer of the CSIRO to process it. The count relates to $245,391.81. Offender’s role with the CSIRO included security and fraud control, a factor which plainly heightens the seriousness of the breach of trust. The CSIRO had to establish an inquiry into the suspected serious misconduct and assist in the AFP investigations which diverted time and resources away from CSIRO’s statutory functions. Objective seriousness can only be characterised as high based on the period of continued offending, amount involved, range of kinds of expenditure, significant breach of trust, and the fact that the offending must be considered to have been premeditated and carefully planned. Offender repaid the total cost of all transactions as well as the purchase price for the Lexus and HiLux.  Offending was committed deliberately and with a full appreciation of their unlawfulness.

Good Character: Offender’s prior good character cannot be doubted. The character references speak with one voice as to their being a reliable, honest, happy, outgoing person who would help anyone who sought their help. That presentation no doubt contributed to their capacity to hold a position of trust to the extent that they were.

Hardship: As a result of being charged, offender lost any real relationship with their three children and possibly lost the opportunity to retain the employment he currently holds as a part-time bus driver. Offender is diagnosed with severe depression and probably post-traumatic stress disorder. Offender’s mother has suffered from a brain tumour which, notwithstanding operative intervention, continues to be a risk to her mortality. The probable effect on her of a sentence of imprisonment on the offender will be harsh and will cause great sadness to her and other members of the family. These are all factors which will operate to make prison a harsher sentence for offender. Offender was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis as a result of which they are on a permanent medication that suppresses their immune system. Offender is more vulnerable to COVID-19 than ordinary members of the community on account of their suppressed immune system. However, offender will not be exposed to a higher risk of COVID-19 if they are committed to a term of imprisonment than if they remained in the community. Steps can be taken to mitigate the risk based on report from Corrective Services Commissioner.

Offender sentenced to imprisonment for 2 years to be released after 12 months on recognizance of $10,000 to be of good behaviour for 12 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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