Magistrate: 'Don’t jail me – I did it for my daughter'
Jailing former magistrate Bob Harrap for abuse of public office would be "heartless and lacking in compassion", and leave him at risk of reprisal from inmates he has sentenced, a court has heard.
On Friday, the District Court heard Harrap did not have his SA Police officer girlfriend and his clerk take his demerit points because losing his driver's licence would "inconvenience his lifestyle".
David Edwardson QC, for Harrap, labelled that accusation "nonsense", saying his client's motivation was the potential effect upon caring for his daughter, who has a severe disability.
He said that made Harrap's crimes less serious than those of former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld, who was jailed for similar offending.
"Seeking immediate imprisonment is heartless and lacks the sort of compassion I would have thought prosecutors would embrace given the circumstances," he said.
"His daughter suffers from autism... her disability forms part of the explanation that's proffered (for the offending) but he accepts, wholeheartedly, sole responsibility for this extraordinary error of judgment.
"He has to own this, and he is obviously contrite and obviously remorseful."
Judge Paul Slattery rejected that stance.
"Marcus Einfeld was no longer a judicial officer when he offended, he was a citizen - your client was a judicial officer at the time he did what he did," he said.
"What your client has done is impose himself on two other people to allow him to go on driving by them taking the points, as a judicial officer.
"You understand the difficulty I'm having with your submission... I can't accept that."
Harrap pleaded guilty to two counts of deceiving another to benefit himself and one count of conspiracy to abuse public office.
His clerk, Melanie Jane Freeman, also pleaded guilty to deceiving another person to benefit her then-boss.
She handed over her driver's licence so Harrap could lie about who was driving his government-issued car when it was detected committing a traffic offence.
SA Police prosecutor Sergeant Abigail Foulkes - who is Harrap's partner - admitted she assisted Harrap to deceive a court staffer as to who was driving his car on a different date.
As a result, Harrap avoided demerit points for another traffic offence.
Lawyer Catherine Jayne Moyse - daughter of corrupt ex-SA Police officer Barry Moyse - also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to abuse public office.
ICAC had alleged she and Harrap were improperly involved in the court case of a person named Hamish Nicholas James.
Harrap resigned before entering his pleas, while Foulkes was placed on administrative leave.
All four offenders are entitled to a sentencing discount of up to 40 per cent due to their pleas.
On Friday, counsel for Moyle said their client had sought Harrap's advice about that man's case, intending for it to be heard by another magistrate.
They said Harrap, however, assured her it would be fine for him to dispose of the case.
"His reassurance that he could hear it, and did not see a problem with it, clouded her judgment," they said.
"She relied on what she was told by Harrap and it was understandable, in the context of their relationship, that she did.
"She trusted him, professionally and personally, and that trust appears to have been ultimately displaced."
They asked Moyle be punished by way of a fine, and spared a conviction.
Mr Edwardson said his client had taken "unqualified acceptance" of responsibility for Moyle's offending, as well as that of Foulkes and Freeman.
He said that a "tragic" consequence of the loss of Harrap's job and reputation was he could no longer financially support his daughter.
Mr Edwardson urged the court to suspend Harrap's sentence or order it be served on home detention.
"There's no doubt that, as a longstanding magistrate, a custodial sentence would place him at inevitable risk," he said.
"There's always a prospect of him being systematically targeted by prisoners in the event he is incarcerated."
Peter Longson, prosecuting, said none of that mitigated Harrap's offending - and asked his bail be cancelled and he be taken into custody immediately.
"The circumstances of his daughter are not unique - lots of people that come before the courts have similar issues," he said.
"He would have known that, if he got caught, what was going to happen to him - that he was finished as a magistrate and as a legal practitioner, and that he was facing time in prison.
"Given how much he had to lose he clearly thought, like Marcus Einfeld did, he was never going to get caught.
"Bail should be revoked today."
Judge Slattery said he was not prepared to cancel Harrap's bail.
He will hear submissions regarding Foulkes and Freeman in November, and sentence all four offenders later that month.
Originally published as Harrap: Don't jail me - I did it for my daughter