Academic could be jailed for fake letters

·3-min read

Jail would be an appropriate punishment for a former university dean who sent herself fake threatening letters which included underwear, a judge has been told.

Prosecutor Roger Kimbal said a community penalty was an option but only when the moral culpability was lower than the Crown's assessment of Dianne Jolley's conduct.

The former University of Technology Sydney professor was found guilty in July of 10 charges of conveying information likely to make a person fear for their safety, knowing that it was misleading.

The 51-year-old academic was also found guilty on one charge of causing financial disadvantage by deception to her work, after UTS spent more than $127,000 in security measures protecting her.

Expenses include CCTV cameras installed in her home and office, monitoring alarms, private security chaperoning her around the university, and hire cars driving between home and work.

Jolley faced a sentence hearing in the NSW District Court on Thursday before Judge Ian Bourke who had written submissions from the prosecutor and Jolley's barrister Leah Rowan.

Mr Kimbal accepted Jolley's offences did not fit into the classic breach of trust or white collar crime cases, but said he had put forward legal principles in fraud-related matters.

"It is a very unusual sentencing exercise I am required to carry out," the judge said.

He noted the defence had distinguished between fraud-type offences where a benefit was obtained and those which caused a detriment.

"It is argued that causing a detriment is not necessarily as morally culpable as obtaining a benefit," he said.

While arguing the university did suffer a financial disadvantage, Mr Kimbal accepted the judge could take the defence submission into account.

Ms Rowan said an appropriate penalty could be a community corrections order and fines.

But the prosecutor said the jury's verdicts pushed the case over the threshold for it to be open to the judge to sentence her to full-time custody.

Ms Rowan noted her client also had suffered a career penalty, having resigned "but effectively, because of these charges and her position had become untenable".

The trial had heard that for months Jolley pretended to find alarming notes including one that read: "Goodbye, cya and good luck," with her photograph and a red line drawn through her face.

"Chop our future we chop yours," read one card. "China hating lesbian," read another.

She testified that she awoke one morning to find nearly $2000 worth of her own clothing had been cut up with a note placed on her car reading: "I know where you live".

She also claimed some items had been stolen including underwear that was later sent to her in an envelope

But her fingerprint was later found on the sticky side of a postage stamp of this letter.

The crown case was she orchestrated the scheme to garner sympathy from the science faculty as she tried to close down the university's traditional Chinese medicine course.

The prosecutor said she was pushing for a performance-based reward of $40,000, on top of her $320,000 yearly salary, by having one of the most financially unviable courses in the faculty shut down.

She will be sentenced on October 29.

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