The Court of Appeal has quashed a jail sentence handed to a used-caravan salesman who bought and sold dozens of written-off vans but fraudulently completed the registration applications.
On Friday, the court unanimously granted Anthony Michael Gliddon’s appeal against a manifestly excessive, wholly suspended 15-month jail term imposed in July, replacing the penalty with a $5000 fine.
Gliddon, 69, a licenced motor dealer, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court to one count of fraud. Prosecutors had originally charged him with committing various fraud offences over the value of $1 million – the gross value of all the caravans he sold fraudulently.
Justice Jim Henry, in his written decision, said: “On 29 June 2021, over four years after the commencement of … (an) ill-fated prosecution, the indictment before the District Court was discontinued and the applicant pleaded guilty to a new indictment charging him with a single count of fraud.
“From time to time in the criminal jurisdiction cases are resolved pragmatically by serious charges being discontinued and the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge. In some such cases the character of the residual alleged criminality is elusive. This is such a case.”
The court was told that the single count of fraud Gliddon pleaded guilty to alleged that between 12 August 2013 and 26 November 2016 he dishonestly induced the Department of Transport and Main Roads to authorise the registration of vehicles it was “entitled to abstain from doing”.
“The charge was premised upon the allegedly inducing consequences of (Gliddon’s) manner of completion of the Vehicle Registration Application forms for the caravans he repaired and sold,’’ he said.
“Specifically, the inducing act was failing to answer ‘yes’ to the question in the form’s question 11, ‘Was the vehicle previously registered?’.
“The prosecution case was that if question 11 was answered truthfully, with the answer ‘yes’, that would have provoked the department to check the previous registration and thus discover the vehicle had been written off.
“This in turn would allegedly have caused the department to abstain from registration, at least pending further inquiry as to whether the vehicle had been restored to a safe state.”
Gliddon was subsequently sentenced by a District Court judge to 15 months’ jail wholly suspended for an operational period of two years.
However, he appealed the sentence on the grounds the penalty was manifestly excessive and, if granted leave by the Court of Appeal, Gliddon contended his sentence should be a fine of $5000 with no conviction recorded.
Justice Henry said: “Weighing all the circumstances of the case the just sentence is a fine of $5000.”
The court, which also comprised Court of Appeal President Walter Sofronoff and Justice John Bond, ordered Gliddon be granted leave to appeal the sentence, allowed the appeal and quashed the prison term with the substitution of a $5000 fine and non-recording of a conviction.
Gliddon was ordered to pay the fine by 31 March 2022, in default three months’ jail.
Read the decision.
Views sought on caravan industry
In an unrelated announcement, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has urged Australians who have recently bought a new caravan to participate in an ACCC survey about possible consumer law issues in the industry.
The ACCC says it has received more than 1300 reports about the caravan industry over the past five years. Common complaints include retailers selling new caravans that do not meet consumer guarantees, and faults leading to disputes between manufacturers and retailers about which party is responsible for the cost of repairs.