Our client is a 27 year old mother from Killara who has previously been convicted of a range of criminal offences.
She was employed from November 2012 until January 2014 as an accountant a book keeper with an online company that compares the prices of online goods.
Between August and December 2013, she entered 12 invoices totalling over $64,000 into the company’s accounting system which purported to pay a legitimate company for their outstanding invoices.
However, she changed the bank account details so that the payments were made into a fake bank account that she was later shown to access.
She resigned after the anomalies were brought to her attention.
Upon her resignation, her employer located a range of items in her drawers and on her computer showing that she was clearly guilty of the offences; including manufactured documents and files stating the name of the legitimate company at the top and the fake account underneath.
The fraudulent invoices were also shown to have been entered through her log details in and submitted through her account.
The evidence against her was therefore overwhelming.
Our client saw another criminal law firm who, improperly in our view, set the matter down for a 3-day defended hearing and quoted her an exorbitant figure to represent her during that hearing.
We were instructed that she was not advised of any defence.
We were also instructed that no attempt had been made by her previous lawyers for her case to be withdrawn and that there had been no negotiations for the reduction of the charges, or the amendment of the ‘police facts’ – which was confirmed by the police officer in charge.
Our client came to see her just 3 weeks before the 3-day defended hearing.
When our Principal Mr U. Nedim and Senior Lawyer Jack Leitner carefully reviewed all of the evidence, it became abundantly clear that the prosecution case was overwhelming and that a defence was not available.
They immediately advised the client that she was wasting her money on such an expensive hearing and would be losing the benefit of a guilty plea.
Our client stated word to the effect of: ‘I knew that was the case’, ‘he always said take it to hearing but never told me why’, and ‘I don’t think he even read the documents’.
Our defence team immediately went into ‘damage control mode’.
We obtained full instructions which revealed psychological issues including depression, and which went some way towards explaining the conduct – without excusing it.
We quickly engaged a psychologist to prepare a detailed report.
We managed to convince police to merge the 12 charges into a single charge and, vitally, to delete nearly two-thirds of the ‘facts’ (ie the document handed-up to the magistrate) so that the offence appeared much less-serious.
We then advised the court that the case would be a ‘guilty plea’ and to ‘vacate’ (cancel) the three-day hearing.
This gave our client the benefit of a ‘discount on sentencing’; in other words, entitled her to a more lenient penalty.
On the day of sentencing, the Magistrate in Downing Centre Local Court praised our firm’s efforts towards mitigating the case.
He gave our client a substantial sentencing discount for saving the court from having to hear a 3 day case whereby many witnesses would have to attend.
He took into consideration the positive psychological report and our detailed submissions, and released our client upon a 2 year ‘section 9 good behaviour bond’ – which is an outstanding result given the nature of the offence and her previous record.
Our client was extremely happy and relieved, and also thankful that our costs were far lower than what her previous lawyer wanted.