Disgraced former Lake Illawarra police officer Jason Hall has failed to convince a court he was suffering from a mental illness when he stole thousands of dollars from colleagues to help fund a pokie addiction.
The long-serving officer, who attained the rank of leading senior constable in the command’s highway patrol unit, had asked the court to dismiss his fraud charge under mental health legislation amid claims he was suffering from an undiagnosed case of post traumatic stress disorder.
Court documents reveal Hall fleeced $15,000 from a social club he set up in 2013 to boost morale at the station. He transferred club money into his own account via an internet banking app on more than 120 occasions between September 2014 and July 2016.
When the fraud was discovered, Hall told fellow officers he had mistaken the club funds for his own credit card funds, despite the fact he didn’t own a credit card at the time most of the transactions took place.
It was also discovered he was in significant debt and gambled regularly.
Hall was charged with dishonestly obtaining an advantage by deception.
In seeking to have his case dealt with under mental health legislation, Halls’ lawyers tendered a report by forensic psychologist Kathryn Wakley in which she concluded Hall had been suffering from work-related post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of the offences.
However, on cross examination from prosecutor Amber Philpot, Ms Wakley admitted she could have gotten the PTSD diagnosis wrong.
In refusing the mental health application on Tuesday, Magistrate Susan McGowan said she was unable to find that Hall was suffering from a mental illness when he swindled the money.
“Ms Wakley saw him once, and once only, for three hours,” she said.
“There’s no medical or psychological history in her report which would have been more objective than Mr Hall’s self-diagnosis….she [also] didn’t speak to his GP.
“I have some unease regarding his self-serving efforts to dodge responsibility.
“I also take the view that the seriousness of the offending is such that the charges should be dealt with according to law.”
Defence lawyer Matthew Ward confirmed Hall was no longer employed by the police, had repaid the money in full and was looking to start work in the construction industry in the near future.
Magistrate McGowan placed Hall on an 18-month good behaviour bond and fined him $2,000.
I have some unease regarding his self-serving efforts to dodge responsibility- Magistrate Susan McGowan