Police officers are notorious for capitalising on freebies, none more infamous than the ‘Maccas discount’ which allows them to purchase tasty burgers, fries and other greasy goodies at rock bottom prices.
And it seems the lure of cut-price fast food is irresistible to some.
Guard gives it a go
43-year old Lawrence O’Dricoll Faitaua from Maroubra is a man with a healthy appetite.
He was employed as a corrections officer at the Sydney Police Centre in Surry Hills when his hunger and the temptation of discounted delights got the better of him.
On 29 January last year, Mr O’Dricoll Faitaua entered the McDonald’s drive-through at Kingsford, ordered a Big Mac and 24 McNuggets and presented a card which read ‘NSW Police – External Contractor’.
And while the card had the potential to be mistaken as proof of police identity, it could not fool the sharp-eyed attendant who made a copy of the ING bank card used to pay for the meal, at a discount of $10.53.
Employees reported the case to Eastern Beaches Local Area Command who quickly launched an investigation.
Upon examining the card details and CCTV footage of the incident, it quickly became apparent to police that the name matched the face and ‘distinctive’ full-arm sleeve tattoo of the suspect.
Conveniently for investigating officers, Mr O’Dricoll Faitaua returned to work at the Police Centre on New Year’s Eve where he was promtly arrested.
Crime doesn’t pay
It all went downhill from there for the hapless discount-seeker, as he felt the full force of the law.
He was charged with fraud under section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 and swifly dismissed from his position.
After all, how dare anyone engage in the sacrilegious act of benefiting from a discount reserved for the boys in blue.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Mr O’Dricoll Faitaua.
When he pleaded guilty before Magistrate Jacqueline Trad in Waverley Local Court, her Honour recognised the “foolish” and relatively trivial nature of the opportunistic act.
“You’ve got to understand it’s a fine line that people step when they start flashing these things for different purposes and then the next thing and the next thing and it becomes more serious”, the Magistrate remarked.
Contrary to news reports, Mr O’Dricoll Faitaua was not “convicted” of the crime. Rather, the charge was dismissed without recording a conviction pursuant to the provisions of section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
The moral of the story is: if you experience the irresistible compulsion to seek a staff discount you are not entitled to, try to ensure it’s not one reserved for members of the police force – even if you work at a police station and they are your work colleagues.
Fraud in NSW
Section 192E of the NSW Crimes Act 1900 makes it an offence to obtain property belonging to another, or obtain any financial advantage or cause a financial disadvantage to another, where this is done dishonestly and by deception.
The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment if the case is finalised in a higher court such as the District Court, or two years in the Local Court.
To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove:
- That by a deception,
- The defendant acted dishonestly,
- By doing so, he or she created a financial advantage over another person’s property, or caused them to suffer a financial disadvantage, and
- The actions were intentional or reckless.
The defendant is entitled to an acquittal if the prosecution is unable to prove each of those elements beyond a reasonable doubt.