Time to pay up

NINE MONTHS MINIMUM: Peter Fussell appeared in the Griffith District Court on Friday.
NINE MONTHS MINIMUM: Peter Fussell appeared in the Griffith District Court on Friday.

FORMER Griffith deputy mayor Peter Fussell was ordered by a judge on Friday to pay back more than $247,000 which he fraudulently obtained.

The 51-year-old appeared in Griffith District Court to appeal the 20-month jail sentence with a minimum of 14 months he received in March.

The court heard that Fussell had been seeking treatment from a psychologist during the period of the fraudulent offences, which occurred over a 19-month period from late 2008 to early 2010.

Fussell pleaded guilty to 13 counts of obtaining money by deception.

The charges stemmed from Fussell's dealings with financed cars while he owned Griffith City Motors.

Judge John Williams reduced the non parole period to nine months after he heard that Fussell was suffering from depression.

He also took into consideration that Fussell had an income protection insurance policy that would allow him to pay back some of the money. n Continued Page 2

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The policy would be cancelled if he served 12 months or more in jail.

Judge Williams said he believed the sentence imposed was quite lenient.

He said Fussell had been a well respected member of the community and it was his first offence.

However, he said it was not unusual for people who committed fraud to be first time offenders and they were often able to commit the crimes because of their reputation within a community.

In sentencing, Judge Williams said there was a commitment from Fussell to pay back the money.

"It's also the case the offences took place over a 19 month period it was not a one-off offence."

Fussell was a Griffith City councillor for six years and tendered his resignation from Council in March 2012, five months before the local government election.