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Ok, this is not normal Blogistic Digression fare, but this is an extraordinary, sad story of the fall of an icon of Australian progressive thought…

Malcolm Knox (ed note, I went to school with Malcolm)
March 20, 2009 – 12:47PM

‘Bag’s packed’: Einfeld enters court today prepared to go to jail. He was not disappointed. Photo: Jon Reid

The former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld has been sentenced to at least two years in jail for lying to evade a speeding fine three years ago.

In a packed hearing room at the NSW Supreme Court, Justice Bruce James imposed a maximum three-year sentence on the 70-year-old.

His lawyer, Ian Barker QC, said Einfeld’s tireless work for the disadvantaged and other mitigating factors justified the imposition of a non-custodial term.

But Wayne Roser, SC, for the crown argued Einfeld should be jailed full time, saying the counts were “in the worst case category” of such offences.

Justice James said the retired judge engaged in “deliberate, premeditated perjury” in order to avoid incurring demerit points on his driver’s licence.

He also concluded Einfeld had engaged in “planned criminal activity”, detailing the numerous lies in his police statement when he asserted he was not driving his car when it was clocked going 10kmh over the speed limit in the Sydney suburb of Mosman.

Justice James set a non-parole period of two years.

After the sentence was imposed, well wishers went over to the dock where Einfeld embraced and kissed many of them.

At the suggestion of corrective services officers, he handed over his valuables, including his mobile phone.

‘Oh, the bag is packed’

In reply to a comment from one supporter, Einfeld said, “Oh, the bag is packed,” and he was then escorted out of the dock.

In January 2006, Einfeld’s car was caught by a speed camera clocking 60kmh in a 50kmh zone. Rather than accept the $77 fine at his court hearing in August 2006, Einfeld said a friend of his, American college professor Teresa Brennan, had been driving the car.

It later emerged that Ms Brennan had died three years before the speeding offence took place.

Einfeld continued to deny any wrongdoing until his hearing before Supreme Court justice Bruce James, when he pleaded guilty to both charges. Einfeld’s psychiatrist, Dr Jonathon Phillips, told the sentencing hearing that his patient had been treated for depression in 1996 and 2006, and
had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

An Aboriginal elder, Madeline McGrady, praised Einfeld’s work with indigenous communities when he was Human Rights Commissioner in the 1980s.

In a separate hearing, Ms Angela Liati was found guilty last month of making a false police statement by saying that she had been using Einfeld’s car at the time of the speeding offence. Ms Liati is currently on bail awaiting sentence.

– with AAP

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