No extra jail for Gumtree scammer

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

It may be a long wait for compensation for a Gumtree scam victim in Queensland.

She had been scammed by Nathan Russell, 34, who posted an ad to sell a set of Holden wheels for $800 in April 2018, Dandenong Magistrates’ Court heard.

Since then, the victim has neither received the wheels nor her money back.

Meanwhile that month, Russell was taken into custody on another matter, and released in January 2019.

Russell pleaded guilty to a deception charge as well as breaching his community correction order via a prison video link at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court on 4 February.

Police applied for a restitution order for $800 against Russell but it may have to wait until 2026 at the earliest.

Last November, he was sentenced in the County Court of Victoria to eight years and nine months in jail for attempted aggravated carjacking and several counts of reckless conduct endangering life.

It was described by County Court judge Michael McInerney as “the worst driving I have observed in my time as a Judge of over 20 years”.

“How no one was killed is an absolute miracle.”

Using the ‘totality’ principle, a defence lawyer argued for a concurrent sentence on the grounds of Russell’s already “excessive” jail stint. He won’t be eligible for parole until 2026.

It was unlikely that the offences would have extended his 276-days in custody in 2018-19, the lawyer argued.

“Any sentence would delay his availability for parole.”

The lawyer said the $800 restitution order would “bring undue hardship.”

Magistrate Doug Bolster said he wasn’t swayed by the ‘hardship’ argument. “He’s the one who put himself in that situation.”

But he noted that Russell was already serving a “significant sentence”.

Russell, a former mechanic, suffered post-traumatic stress disorder due to being stabbed during an aggravated burglary, the court heard.

He was also diagnosed with anxiety, depression and ADHD, his lawyer said.

Russell had “battled” with drug use such as ice, cannabis and speed since he was 15 years old.

Mr Bolger jailed Russell for five months, served concurrently with his current prison stint. He was convicted and fined $1000.

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