A MAN who stole more than $1.2 million from Newcrest Mining has failed to downgrade his sentence in the NSW Supreme Court.
Bruce Alan Johnston was sentenced to six years and six months’ jail in Orange District Court in June 2015 for gaining financial advantage by deception, with a non-parole period of four years.
Johnston was a senior accountant for Newcrest Mining and between July 2010 and August 2013, he prepared 156 invoices from a false entity he set up.
They claimed to be for consultancy services for the Cadia project, but Johnston used the funds to gamble.
The total, $1,257,847.25, was discovered when no GST was paid on the invoices.
Johnston admitted the deception in November 2013 and was arrested and charged the following July.
He agreed to pay Newcrest $250,000 in restitution.
The sentencing judge noted Johnston had sought help, his prognosis was good and he was at low risk of reoffending, but it had taken years and a large sum of money before he sought help, and only after he was caught.
He also noted there were differences between a gambling addiction and a drug addiction because gambling did not physically alter a person’s mind or body.
Johnston appealed the sentence, saying the judge erred in the weight he placed on his gambling addiction in assessing the offence, by placed gambling addiction below drug addiction and by not placing enough emphasis on his rehabilitation, good character and first-time offender status.
He also claimed an eight-year and eight-month sentence, had he not pleaded guilty early, could not have been imposed because the offence was not in the worst category.
Johnston submitted he had a gambling disorder and his psychiatrist told the court his inability to stop gambling affected his judgement.
However Chief Justice Tom Bathurst and judges Peter Johnson and Desmond Fagan held a gambling addiction could not reduce moral culpability, especially when the fraud was committed across a long period.
“There was nothing to suggest ... the applicant lacked the capacity to exercise judgment, or that the crime was anything other than a willed act,” the judgment said.
They also found the challenge to the sentence length did not consider there were 156 offences rolled into one and Johnston was in a position of trust.
“General deterrence is of considerable importance,” the judgment said.
“It is generally only persons of good character who are placed in positions of trust so as to enable offences ... to be committed.”