Fraudster to stay in jail

THE Court of Appeal has rejected the application of a woman who claimed she deserved a lighter punishment because the sentencing judge didn’t take into account her depression during the two-year period of her offences.

Marguerite Louise Goodger was sentenced to four-and-a-half years jail, with parole eligibility after 18 months, for fraudulently obtaining $94,744 from her Rockhampton employer, ET’s Steel and Fencing.

The loss forced the business’ closure with 17 people losing their jobs.

Goodger effected 94 transactions to obtain the money between January 2006 and December 2007 before the fraud was discovered during the Christmas holidays.

Goodger appealed her sentence, handed down in September, on the ground it was manifestly excessive, in particular that the sentencing judge failed to give proper consideration to her psychiatric condition.

According to the doctor who assessed her, Goodger suffered from a major depressive disorder which impaired her ability to know what she was doing and to control the actions of her offending.

At her sentence hearing, Goodger’s counsel conceded the appropriate range of punishment was between three and five years prison, with a release date after serving a third of the head sentence.

“The position taken on the applicant’s behalf at sentence makes it difficult for her now to argue that the sentence, which reflected the position adopted by her counsel, was manifestly excessive.”

The sentencing judge observed the offending had occurred over a long period of time and involved the abuse of a position of trust.

The claim said the sentencing judge erred because he failed to appreciate “the applicant’s moral culpability” and “to recognise the impact of a custodial term of imprisonment was likely to have an adverse effect upon her mental health”.

The Court of Appeal decision handed down said Goodger was sufficiently aware of what she was doing to disguise her fraudulent payments.

“As a matter of ordinary human experience one can say that those who suffer depression are not known to be given to defrauding their employers.”

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