Veteran Rockhampton solicitor Doug Winning.
Veteran Rockhampton solicitor Doug Winning.

Rocky lawyer found guilty of official corruption

A JURY today found veteran Rockhampton solicitor Douglas John Winning guilty of official corruption.

The 67-year-old was subsequently sentenced in Rockhampton District Court to nine months' jail, wholly suspended for 18 months.

Mr Winning had pleaded not guilty to the charge which stemmed from allegations he tried to bribe two police officers after he was caught drink-driving.

Leaving the Rockhampton courthouse this afternoon, Mr Winning walked with his head up, but he was not in the mood to talk to waiting media.

Inside, he was a shattered man.

After the guilty verdict was delivered, the court heard the solicitor of 34 years would likely be struck off (removed from practice), spelling the end of his career.

"From 2006 onwards you ran your own practice, you had difficulties with that," Judge Craig Chowdhury told Winning prior to handing down his sentence.

"Clearly you've had problems with alcohol over your life.

"I'm told that you went dry for a long period - you went to Alcoholics Anonymous for 30 years.

"In 2018 there were some personal stresses in your life and you fell off the wagon and started drinking again.

"Your description to the police officers of drinking two bottles of Bundaberg Rum is frightening, it's damaging to your health as well as of course, leading you to the situation you face today.

"You're currently a declared bankrupt but apparently that's going to expire sometime early next year.

"You've really got yourself through to this late stage of life where most men are looking at a long and happy retirement, and you've got yourself into this situation, but you've only got yourself to blame."

Judge Chowdhury said he had regard to all of the comparable cases that had been referred to him.

"They are more serious, as I've discussed with the lawyers," he said.

"There's no question that the principal of general deterrence is that the courts must impose heavy penalties to send a message to the community not to commit offences of this type.

"I'm fairly confident you will never be in this position again.

"One would hope the experience of sitting in the dock and being tried, and convicted, and about to be sentenced, will impress upon your mind to never do this again, and to give up the grog again because that will be better for you."

Judge Chowdhury had earlier said that on the night of the incident, quite clearly Winning was drunk but he was not so drunk that he couldn't understand the police officers' questioning.

"You were able to converse with them and foolishly, and criminally, you decided to produce a wad of $50 notes and flash them to the police officers and said 'can't pay my way out of it, can't pay my way out of this, can I?'

"Fortunately the police officers being diligent officers brushed that aside and made it clear that that wasn't on, and continued to question you."

Prior to sentencing being passed, Winning's barrister described his client's offending as "possibly the lowest level of official corruption".

"I can't contemplate a lesser example of official corruption than this."

The maximum penalty for the offence was seven years' jail.

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