‘Please forgive my son’ mum’s court apology for $130K fraud
A TEARFUL mother has apologised to a judge for the crimes of her son who stole $135,000 worth of mobile phones and items from his work.
Her 24-year-old son Maotua Levi blamed the financial pressure of looking after his extended family for his criminal offending while employed as a courier for a Karalee company.
The court heard the father of two may have received just $6000 when he sold boxes of the phones to a mystery man on the Gold Coast.
Watched by a dozen family members and friends when he appeared in the dock of Ipswich District Court, Maotua Levi pleaded guilty to committing fraud (dishonest application of property of another) valued at least $100,000.
Two of his victims also watched the legal proceedings.
Crown prosecutor Caitlin Thompson said the courier company did an audit on June 5 last year and discovered that 21 consignments involving phones and related devices had not been delivered between May 10 and May 21, 2018.
Levi had deliberately not scanned the missing goods through the company system with the total loss worth $135,284," the court heard.
Ms Thompson said Levi made full admissions to police saying he on-sold the items "to an unknown male on the Gold Coast" because he was suffering financial hardship.
She said his criminal activity meant a significant loss and had jeopardised the company.
The Crown sought a jail term of 4 ½ years but given his age with no criminal history Levi could be released earlier before serving one-third.
She said he'd already spent 21 days in custody.
Defence barrister Rob Carroll sought a four year jail term with an earlier release.
He then presented Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC with a pile of reference letters to read including one written by Levi's family church pastor.
The hearing was delayed while he read the late lodgement of material - after noting Levi had pleaded guilty back in August.
Mr Carroll said Levi had shown a high level of co-operation with police and remorse.
The offending had been done in a short time space with financial hardship underlaying it.
Mr Carroll said Levi's now ex-partner had stopped working at the time because of the birth of their second child, his father's job had ceased, and Levi had to financially contribute to the expenses of the rented house they all shared.
"His relationship was on the rocks. He was in a situation where he was supporting two families and three siblings," Mr Carroll said.
"It was all spent on living expenses. He was given what was offered for the boxes. Told police he got upwards of $6000.
"He was quite shocked to hear the total value of the fraud. Wasn't thinking straight at the time."
Mr Carroll said Levi lost his job but had since found another that paid $100 a week more and was still financially supporting his family.
He also sent money to his grandmother in Western Samoa.
Levi is a New Zealand citizen and a resident of Australia, works nine to 10 hours days, see's his children, and goes to church on Sundays - "that's his life", Mr Carroll said.
Mr Carroll said Levi cut hair for the homeless at barbecues in Logan, leads a very simple life, "with no assets to offer as restitution".
Levi had also been a good rugby league player but did not take up an offer to play Under 25's instead deciding to go into the work force.
"He feels great shame," he said.
Judge Horneman-Wren said Levi had shown "absolute disdain" in the contemptuous way he treated the property of others in that its actual value was of no concern and he'd get what he could get.
But Mr Carroll said it was more reflective of his "desperation".
In a surprise twist Levi's mother stood up in the courtroom saying she would like to "apologise to everyone especially the company for what my son did."
"Please forgive my son. It's the first time something has happened to him. I do apologise for what he did.
"So please, please forgive my son for what he did. Thank you very much."
Levi then stood in the dock and wiping away some tears said he would like to apologise to the business "for what I've done".
"I want to apologise. I known I deserve the consequences of what I've done. Thank you."
Judge Horneman-Wren said he stole the goods while working for a courier company his crime not sophisticated.
"You told police you were suffering financial hardship. But such financial hardship is not unusual in our society," Judge Horneman-Wren said.
"You succumbed to temptation of your employment. It was a gross breach of trust."
Judge Horneman-Wren noted that it seems very much out of character, and the conviction would likely impact his ability to stay in Australia.
Levi was convicted and sentenced to four years jail. He must serve 12 months with the remaining three years then suspended for five years.