Plea to jail businessman for using clients' $1.6m denied
AN appeal to have a former Gladstone financial planner put behind bars for using $1.59 million of his clients' money to help his business has been denied.
Lewis Fellowes pleaded guilty in November last year at Brisbane District Court to three dishonesty offences against both Queensland and Western Australian clients between 2008 and 2010.
Fellowes transferred $1.59 million of his clients' money into his and his wife's accounts to help his business after the global financial crisis.
The once "extremely high flying" stockbroker was sentenced to three years' jail but was immediately released upon entering a $30,000 five-year good behaviour bond.
The charges related to conduct while he was a stockbroker at Tolhurst in Gladstone and was later discovered while working for Patersons in Perth.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the sentence, and said it was a "manifestly inadequate" punishment.
Describing the offences as a "gross breach of trust", the Director did not question the terms of imprisonment, but argued Fellowes should not have received immediate release.
At the appeal judgment in Brisbane last month, Justice Hugh Fraser said Fellowes "dishonestly abused his position of trust as a financial adviser" to advantage himself and his wife.
While he said Mr Fellowes' unlawful transactions caused the clients some anxiety, he noted they were repaid with interest before Australian Securities and Investments Commission started an investigation into him in 2013.
Justice Fraser said Fellowes was genuinely remorseful and had a low risk of re-offending.
Banned for life from working in the finance industry, the now 44-year-old is working in a sales position with a home builder, Justice Fraser said.
He said in addition to his remorse and early guilty plea, Fellowes' actions did not cause his victims any quantifiable loss.
"(Fellowes) expressed genuine remorse, co-operated with the authorities, and remained willing to assist investigators with other investigations in which he had provided information," Justice Fraser said.
Justice Fraser found the sentence was not unreasonable or unjust and refused the appeal.