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An executive from a large, publicly listed company has been imprisoned for up to six years after pleading guilty to serious fraud offences.
As part of a vehicle leasing operation, the executive illegitimately and illegally received funds that had such diverse labels as “introducer fees” and “inspection services”. The funds were then diverted towards flights, jewellery and “adult entertainment.”
He even went so far as to set up a set up a company in the name of his accountant. This company then rendered invoices to his employer to a total value of over half a million dollars, when in fact no services had been provided.
In handing down sentence, District Court Judge Mark Williams ordered that he serve a minimum of four years in gaol and a maximum of six years. According to media reports, the judge allocated a “discount” of 40 percent for “pleading guilty, displaying remorse, having previously good character and being unlikely to reoffend.”
This is unusual, as judges usually avoid specifying a particular discount for such matters, with the exception of the plea of guilty.
The courts have long favoured being extremely transparent about the allocation of discounts for a plea of guilty, considering that it is only by being specific about the discount that offenders can be encouraged to enter pleas of guilty.
However, when it comes to more subjective factors such as “remorse” or “likelihood of reoffending”, the courts have generally favoured what has come to be known as an “instinctive synthesis”. This is a process where the judge or magistrate considers the multitude of factors that apply to a particular offender and then arrive at an appropriate sentence.
This is as opposed to an arithmetic process of addition or calculation, where a person receives a increase in their penalty because of one aggravating factor, but then has it discounted because of a mitigating factor.
As a consequence, it is often said that there is “no one correct sentence”. It is accepted that judges and magistrates will sometimes differ as to what is an appropriate punishment. Judges are able to weigh individual factors but then also the final result, and consider whether in all the circumstances the final penalty appears just and reasonable.
In this case, notwithstanding the significant discount, the executive still received a substantial sentence of imprisonment.
Image Credit – Dinis Tolipov © 123RF.com
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