The long arm of the law sometimes also has a long memory. In Andrew’s case both came to bear on him when he least expected it.
Several years ago, when Andrew had experienced homelessness, he received assistance from The Salvation Army and was grateful for their help to get back on his feet. He did not know how best to deal with some outstanding criminal matters and early in 2018, Andrew phoned our office for a telephone advice bureau appointment. Andrew had a substantial number of outstanding charges dating back to the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Andrew grew up in a family where greyhound racing and gambling were the norm. He was also an avid fan of the Richmond Tigers. In 1980 the Tigers won an AFL premiership. Unfortunately, this was also when Andrew’s gambling became an addiction, and he began to steal and commit fraud to fund this addiction. Andrew moved around the country working in labour jobs, but continued to steal and commit fraud between jobs to support his gambling addiction. The more the addiction took hold of Andrew, the worse his offending became and he spiraled down so far and so hard, it seemed almost impossible for him to get out his situation.
While in Queensland during the late 1990s and early 2000s, Andrew committed a significant number of offences. As the pressure mounted and the prospect of being caught and serving a lengthy term of imprisonment became a reality, he fled to a small town in New South Wales while on bail after serving 200 days on remand. Unlike cases where offenders take no steps to improve their situation, Andrew sought help for his gambling addiction and saw a psychologist about his criminal past. He became involved in sporting clubs and assisted with organising sponsorship for local schools. Notably, he arranged sponsorship to take a group of school students to Sydney to watch a game between Sydney Swans v Richmond Tigers.
As a Tiger supporter, he celebrated the Tigers’ 37 year drought breaking win with the Club and other supporters and felt that the club had renewed his faith and confidence in it. As if he needed a sign after 15 years on the run, Andrew decided it was time to put an end to his own dark past, pay the price for his past actions and come clean once and for all. This desire to make right a number of wrongs drove him to contact Salvos Legal Humanitarian. Additionally, Andrew was suffering a number of medical ailments and he believed part of his medical decline was that he was carrying this burden for so many years.
Salvos Legal Humanitarian took on his case. We communicated with the Registry and Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) to relist his matter for sentence. Following lengthy discussions and negotiations with the DPP, we instructed Counsel on a reduced fee basis. In April 2018, Andrew took public transportation all the way from where he lived in NSW to Queensland to answer the charges. In the District Court at Maroochydore, Andrew was sentenced to a term of imprisonment wholly suspended. The relief on his face was clearly evident. The worst was now behind him. The weight of more than fifteen years was off his shoulders. He could sleep easily from now on.
Today, Andrew is grateful to Salvos Legal Humanitarian. He says, “Thank you so much and the team over this journey can’t thank you enough.” Andrew continues to see a psychologist and participate in rehab programs to ensure he does not relapse. It goes without saying that Andrew continues to bleed yellow and black.