Jail term for former Bell Potter adviser
A former Australian Barbarians and Randwick District rugby captain has been jailed for a year after a Commonwealth appeal against his "manifestly inadequate" suspended sentence for dishonest conduct.
Lawson Stuart Donald, 38, a former Bell Potter Securities client adviser, received a suspended 2-½ year sentence, with a two-year good behaviour bond, in April.
But the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, after consulting with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, appealed against the sentence, saying it was "manifestly inadequate".
Donald had pleaded guilty in August last year to using his position as an employee of the stockbroking firm to gain an advantage for himself worth about $1.8 million. He was a client adviser at Bell Potter from 2003 to 2008.
ASIC said Donald had transferred trades from one client account to accounts controlled by him, and then "sold those shares for a profit".
At the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal on Friday, the judges said in a decision that the original sentence "failed to reflect the gravity of the offence and failed in particular to serve as an effective deterrent to other similarly intelligent, competitive professionals in the financial markets".
The court added that was due in part to "the inherent leniency in a suspended sentence", and deterrence appeared more effective when a jail sentence was imposed.
"Notwithstanding judicial statements to the effect that a suspended sentence is a sentence of imprisonment, the community (including those in 'white collar' occupations) might be justifiably forgiven for thinking that an offender who is serving a bond in the community has escaped meaningful punishment," the court said.
The court also addressed the issue of a "rolled up" count, where Donald's offences, which ASIC said were carried out over 30 separate transactions between 2005 and 2008, were accepted as one offence.
Citing another case this year, the court noted Justice Peter Garling's observations that "there was a considerable advantage to an offender in a 'rolled up' charge, in that it restricts the maximum penalty to that for one offence, instead of what is in reality a number of discrete offences".