Update 3.40pm: A Perth lawyer was spared time behind bars for giving misleading evidence at the Corruption Crime Commission’s investigation into a City of Stirling scandal.
Trevor Howard Brickhill, 47, was today sentenced in the Perth Magistrate’s Court after pleading guilty to two offences stemming from the watchdog’s probe into alleged theft, kickbacks and contract manipulation at the council.
Brickhill was fined $10,000 for giving misleading evidence to the CCC and he was given a 12 month jail term, suspended for 18 months, for counselling a person to destroy material to prevent it being used in evidence.
There were sighs of relief from the public gallery as the magistrate suspended the sentence.
The lawyer, who had a commercial practice at the time, represented a sacked council manager who was sacked as a result of the scandal being investigated by the CCC. The council worker - who took his own life on September 2010 - had has his name is suppressed.
In a phone call secretly intercepted by the CCC, Brickhill is heard telling the council worker that he had spoken to his wife and suggested their computer has "got to go".
Brickhill told the investigation in November 2010 that he had referred the couple to other lawyers.
His charge about giving misleading evidence to the CCC relates to saying he had not given advice, not the actual advice he is alleged to have given.
However, Brickhill has also admitted counselling a person to destroy material to prevent it being used in evidence.
Today, his defence counsel Philip Urquhart asked that his client - a married father-of-three - be spared an immediate jail term, describing how an "unthinking moment" had already cost his profession and his reputation.
"He erroneously placed the interests of a client and an ex-client ... above his professional obligations as a legal practitioner," Mr Urquhart said, adding that his client was remorseful and normally of good character.
Mr Urquhart said the council worker’s wife, and not Brickhill, had initiated suggestions about the computer being destroyed, and submitted that his client’s misleading evidence had not undermined the CCC investigation.
He also suggested that if the CCC had informed Brickhill what areas he was to be quizzed about before the hearing, the outcome may have been different and Brickhill would not now be in court.
Mr Urquhart suggested the process adopted by the watchdog had "parallels" to entrapment.
A prosecutor submitted that only immediate jail was appropriate given that Brickhill’s crime was akin to attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The prosecutor pointed out that the CCC did not know what other evidence there was to uncover when it examined Brickhill at the hearing.
The court heard that Brickhill was the first person to be prosecuted with counselling a person to destroy evidence and that former Premier Brian Burke and former minister Norm Marlborough were the only others to have been prosecuted for giving misleading evidence, although Mr Marlborough successfully appealed.Brickhill was ordered to pay costs of $3500.
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.