By Sonia Hickey and Ugur Nedim
Luke Brett Moore’s Facebook status simply reads:
“NOT GUILTY. (:”
Earlier this week, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal (NSWCCA) overturned the fraud conviction against him and he now hopes to get on with his life.
But it was a very different story this time four years ago. Moore was in the final days of a $2 million spending spree when on 12 December 2012, police raided his home and seized a treasure trove of possessions including paintings, cars, a boat, jewellery and a framed Michael Jordan shirt.
They charged him with fraud and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
As reported in one of our previous blogs, Moore was just 22-years old when he opened a “Complete Freedom” bank account with his local St George branch.
The first deposit into the account was a Centrelink payment of $441 the next day, but over the ensuing two years, Moore slowly racked up more than $2.1 million in debt – money he did not have, but was able to draw upon due to a bank error.
Bank error in your favour
Moore’s defence lawyers have continually argued his innocence, saying a bank error allowed him access to funds he could never possibly repay and that an important component of the offence of fraud – deception – was absent.
While his bank account remained in debt, the bank charged interest and fees and, at all times, Moore was obliged to pay the money back.
But last year, a District Court jury found Moore guilty and he was sentenced to two years and three months in prison. He served five months before he was granted bail last September, pending his appeal of what the NSWCCA described as an “almost unique” case.
In the final chapter of this six year saga, the NSWCCA agreed with Moore’s lawyers, finding he did not engage in deception and that, therefore, the offence of fraud could not be made out.
For Moore, this is a huge relief.
“I am thrilled with the result”, Mr Moore told Sydney Criminal Lawyers, “I am looking forward to moving on with my life, finishing my law degree, getting a job, my own house and a hot Mrs who knows how to clean and have a good time!”
All eyes are now on the case of Christine Lee, the foreign student who was given an unlimited overdraft facility by Westpac and racked up more than $4million in debt, most of which she spent on renting a luxury apartment, shoes, handbags, jewellery and clothes.
Ms Lee was arrested trying to leave Australia on a flight to Malaysia earlier this year. She faces the same charges as Mr Moore: fraud and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.