On 2 September 2016, Jennifer Stewart was sentenced in the District Court of Western Australia to 22 months imprisonment for multiple counts of forging and uttering counterfeit notes.
In 2013, an investigation by Western Australian Police and Australian Federal Police into fake $50 notes being passed off at retailers in Perth’s central business district and southern metro area, led them to search an address in Hamilton Hill where Jennifer Jayne Stewart lived with her de facto partner Diego Ianni, and Keith Geoffrey Brown. Brown had previously been prosecuted for forging and uttering counterfeit notes.
During the search, officers found printers and stationery that were being used to make counterfeit $50 notes, a basket of counterfeiting materials, six completed notes and several dozen more notes in various stages of completion. Further enquiries showed that Stewart had used fake $50 notes at 11 stores around Perth.
In sentencing, her Honour Judge Schoombee noted that the Reserve Bank of Australia had identified 2,299 similar ‘Helix’ notes, and while it was not possible to say how many notes Stewart had made herself, she had obviously participated in making counterfeit money.
Her Honour said the offence was a serious one because counterfeit money can readily make its way into circulation. Although Stewart pleaded guilty at the earliest reasonable opportunity, and had generally led a law-abiding life over a number of years, Judge Schoombee said the only appropriate sentence was immediate imprisonment.
Stewart was also sentenced on the same date for two charges of possessing methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply, prosecuted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Western Australia. The drug was found when Western Australia Police searched Stewart’s car in 2011 and found almost 84 grams of methylamphetamine in clip seal bags.
When it came to the two men, Brown pleaded guilty to making and possessing counterfeit money, and on 9 June 2015 was sentenced by the District Court of Western Australia to 2.5 years imprisonment, to serve 18 months before being released on a good behaviour bond.
In the same court, Ianni was convicted after a trial of making counterfeit money and on 11 June 2015 was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, to serve 10 months before being released on a good behaviour bond.
Charge / Sentence
Following a guilty plea, Stewart was sentenced on 2 September 2016 to 22 month’s imprisonment, in relation to:
- 11 charges of uttering counterfeit currency, contrary to section 7(a) of the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981.
- 1 charge of making counterfeit currency, contrary to section 6 of the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981.
- 1 charge of possessing counterfeit currency, contrary to section 9(1)(a) of the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981.
Stewart was also sentenced to three years imprisonment for the drug charges and made eligible for parole after 18 months, at which time she should immediately serve 10 months of the federal sentence before being released on a good behaviour bond.
In sentencing, her Honour Judge Schoombee said: “If counterfeit notes are placed into circulation, this has the potential to destroy public confidence in the currency and, as I have indicated, it causes loss to the people who end up with these notes. Producing counterfeit money and circulating it in the community is, therefore, an offence against the whole Australian community. People should be free to conduct their day-to-day purchases and business affairs without having to be concerned about the integrity of the currency that they receive and again hand over.”