Petricevic parole challenge dismissed

Justice Rebecca Ellis dismissed the application for review.   NBR reporter Hamish McNicol discusses the latest court stories on NBR Radio and on demand on MyNBR Radio.

See also: Rodney Hide's column on Rod Petricevic: Jail’s for treatment that fits the crime

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has lost its bid for a judicial review of the decision to release former Bridgecorp boss Rod Petricevic on parole.

Justice Rebecca Ellis dismissed the application for review, saying the trust had no standing to challenge the Parole Board's decision, as it wasn't a victim of Petricevic's crimes. The convicted fraudster will be released on Monday, having served half of his six-year, 10-month sentence.

"The trust's application for judicial review does not raise any question of law of that broad or publicly relevant kind," Justice Ellis wrote in her judgment.

Francis Cooke QC, appearing for the Parole Board, said the Sensible Sentencing Trust had no standing to bring the review as it wasn't a direct victim of the offender's actions.

The trust "is a group in the community that has a particular view about crime and punishment," Cooke said. "It does not have standing ... it would be somewhat different if it was an issue of systemic illegality but it's not, it's an individual case."

The trust's interest was no different to the wider public's, something the board had already considered, he said.

This is the first time the Sensible Sentencing Trust has taken action over a white-collar crime.

Former Act Party MP David Garrett, acting for the trust, argued the board made an error when it relied on a single psychologist's report, paid for Petricevic. The former Bridgecorp boss was turned down twice by the Parole Board for failing to show any remorse, arguing the only circumstance that changed in the third and last hearing was Petricevic paying for a private psychologist to write a report saying he now felt remorse for his actions.

He also told the court that Garth McVicar, founder of the trust, had advised him three members of Sensible Sentencing Trust were victims of Bridgecorp but did not want to be named.

Justice Ellis was not convinced by this.

"Even if the trust had had some involvement in the statutory process [which it did not] it could only have been on behalf of particular Bridgecorp investors," she wrote. "In the absence of some official status or mandate, it is difficult to see why the trust has any more interest (in the relevant, narrow sense) in the grant of parole to Mr Petricevic than any other member of the public."

Petricevic was convicted in 2010 of deliberately making false statements to trustees and distributing offer documents containing false statements while knowing Bridgecorp was heavily in debt. The failed finance company owed $459 million to 14,500 investors when it went into receivership in 2007 and investors have since been repaid about 10 cents in the dollar.

The 66-year-old told the parole board he would retire and had no intention of offering advice or being involved in any business after his release.

Justice Ellis said she will issue a brief addendum to her judgment in relation to costs as soon as time permits. Garrett argued that, given the public interest and importance of the case, the "public purse" should stump up the costs.


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