Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Former Prosecutor's safety risk in prison

A Tasmanian court has heard a former Crown Prosecutor who stole $200,000 seized from criminals can not go to Risdon Prison because his safety would be at risk.

Michael Paul Shirley has been in custody at the Hobart Remand Centre since his arrest in March.

For about four and a half years Michael Shirley, a senior crown prosecutor, stole varying amounts of cash from the Tasmania Police property store in Hobart.

Prosecutor, Mark Miller, said the money was mostly proceeds of crime seized from drug dealers.

Defence lawyer, Greg Richardson, said a spiralling gambling problem led Shirley to steal and he also gambled much of his wages and bank loans.

He said "it was close to half a million dollars wasted on keno."

Mr Richardson told the Hobart Criminal Court Shirley would have to serve his prison term in the Hobart Remand Centre because of the criminals he had prosecuted.

He said "he can't go to Risdon, they can't guarantee his safety."

Mr Richardson said his client had twice attempted suicide since his crimes came to light. He said Shirley's crimes were neither clever nor sophisticated and detection was inevitable.

He said his client has paid back part of the money and will be practically destitute when he leaves prison, with little chance of gaining employment.

Shirley will be sentenced later this month.

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