Lawyers of Convicted Aussie MP Craig Thomson Battle Jail Term; Insists Using HSU Money to Pay Prostitutes in Not Illegal

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By Vittorio Hernandez | March 18, 2014 2:00 PM EST

The request by lawyers of convicted MP Craig Thomson would likely invite public criticism and anger. Defence lawyer Greg James argued before the Melbourne Magistrate Court on Tuesday not to jail the former national secretary of the Health Services Union (HSU) despite his being found by the court of misusing the HSU-issued credit cards, including pay prostitutes for sex services rendered.

Reuters/Omar Sobhani
More than 400 women are imprisoned in Afghan jails for moral crimes.

In opposing the jail term for Mr Thomson, his lawyers said the legislator's political career and prospects have been damaged and he is now suffering from a major depressive disorder. Mr James insisted that his client acted on impulse and got cash from the HSU funds since his marriage then was on the rocks and he sought comfort from other women.

In pleading to the court not to send Mr Thomson to jail, the lawyer asked the magistrate not to ignore the MP's career as a public servant and even insisted his spending HSU money on sex trade workers and porno movies was blown out of proportion. Mr James stressed that even if paying prostitutes is social unacceptable, it is not illegal.

"If he hasn't spent the money on prostitutes or pornographic movies then there was unlikely to have been concern ... He has not been convicted on spending money on prostitutes," ABC quoted the lawyer.

Mr James pointed out that the MP has attracted too much media attention and his current wife is harassed by paparazzi. He attributed the negative consequences of Mr Thomson's breach of trust act to the MP's casting a vital vote in Parliament.

He suggested to Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg alternatives to prison term of five years and for the MP to repay the $24,538,42 he took by taking out a mortgage.

But Prosecutor Lesley Taylor opposed it, saying anything less than an immediate prison term would be insufficient. She pointed out that Mr Thomson has not shown any sign or remorse for his act and has even been "arrogant in the extreme."

Sentencing of Mr Thomson, 49, is slated on Tuesday for his conviction of 65 theft and dishonesty offences.

The fear of being jailed could be explained by Mr Thomson probably still suffering from the shame of being strip searched in 2013 during his initial arrest, which could be repeated when incarcerated.

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(Photo: Reuters/Omar Sobhani / )
More than 400 women are imprisoned in Afghan jails for moral crimes.
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