Craig Thomson's conduct 'arrogant in the extreme'

Former MP Craig Thomson arrives at the Melbourme Magistrates Court on Tuesday. Picture: PENNY STEPHENS
Former MP Craig Thomson arrives at the Melbourme Magistrates Court on Tuesday. Picture: PENNY STEPHENS

Prosecutors have called on a magistrate to jail former federal MP Craig Thomson for using union funds for personal benefit, including paying for sex.

Lead prosecutor Lesley Taylor, SC, said Thomson had displayed a ''continuous and sustained breach of trust'' in using Health Services Union money to accrue more than $24,000 of financial advantage when he was the union's national secretary between 2002 and 2007.

Ms Taylor told Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday that Thomson's conduct was ''arrogant in the extreme'' and that he had ''uttered not a single word of remorse''.

She called on magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg to impose an immediate jail term on Thomson, who was last month found guilty of 65 charges of theft and obtaining financial advantage by deception.

Mr Rozencwajg will impose his sentence next Tuesday morning.

Earlier, Thomson's lawyer told the court that the former MP for the NSW seat of Dobell

Greg James, QC, called on Mr Rozencwajg to spare sending Thomson to prison, saying the public humiliation he had experienced for five years was a just punishment.

He said his client's crime was not the most heinous, but that the level of notoriety Thomson had attracted had been ''well in excess'' of the publicity that usually accompanied white-collar criminals.

Mr James told the court Thomson suffered from depression and had experienced several health problems since 2010, including anxiety, breathing difficulties, abdominal pains and fatigue.

''It's clear that he is suffering from a major depressive disorder and that means were there to be a sentence of imprisonment it would be much more onerous on him than it would be on a normal prisoner," Mr James said.

Mr James also made mention of a possible appeal to the County Court.

But any appeal would need to be announced after a sentence was imposed.

Mr James referred to Thomson's use of sexual services, saying his client had used the union funds on an opportunistic basis at a time when his relationship with his then wife was in trouble.

But Mr James urged Mr Rozencwajg not to be swayed by the moral issue of paying for sex, as he acknowledged some people would find doing so ''socially unacceptable''.

''He is convicted of taking money, not of spending money on prostitutes,'' Mr James told the court.

But Ms Taylor said Thomson could raise the intense media focus on his offending as a mitigating factor when he had used the media, and parliamentary privilege, to deny the allegations against him.

Thomson, 49, was last month found guilty of using HSU funds for sexual services, of making cash withdrawals from ATMs with his union-issued credit card and buying cigarettes and firewood for his then wife, Christa, with union money.

He was also found guilty of using union funds after he had quit the HSU and become the Labor member for Dobell, and guilty of some charges related to paying for travel expenses for his then wife.

But some of the charges related to spousal travel were dismissed, as were the charges related to buying in-house movies at hotel rooms while on work trips.

Among the onlookers in court were HSU officials Kathy Jackson and Marco Bolano, two of the whistleblowers who went public with Thomson's offending. At one point Mr Bolano sat next to Thomson in the front row behind the bar table.

Mr Bolano and Ms Jackson arrived at court with radio host Michael Smith, whose interview with Thomson was referred to during the trial as evidence of the former politician denying the allegations against him.

Thomson left court without comment.