Turning his life around stopped this man going to jail

AN IPSWICH man was lucky to escape having to serve a stint behind bars for fraud after a judge found that he had turned his life around significantly since the offence was committed.

Dane Stephen Herden, 31, pleaded guilty on Friday in the Brisbane District Court to a fraud to the value of $90,000 after submitting a dodgy car insurance claim while on bail for serious drug trafficking offences

Crown Prosecutor Jane Shaw told the court Herden was jailed for 18 months in 2011 for his role in a drug trafficking ring which that was operating across the south-east.

A number of high-profile Ipswich Rugby League identities were also arrested as part of the police operation targeting the group who were supplying large quantities of meth, speed and cocaine.

Ms Shaw said Herden called NRMA Insurance in June, 2011, to arrange a quote for a vehicle to the agreed value of $90,000.

She said he called back a few weeks later to secure the quote.

"He told NRMA he paid $90,000 for the vehicle and there was nothing wrong with it," she said.

"The vehicle however was a write-off that had a value of less than $20,000.

"The fraud came to light when he contacted NRMA to say the vehicle had been stolen."

Ms Shaw said the fraud stems from the fact he had entered into an arrangement with NRMA over the vehicle's agreed value.

"Initially he was charged with attempted fraud, but after a lengthy investigation that was upgraded to fraud," she said.

"His fraud is based on a number of false claims the made to the insurer.

"The Crown concedes no actual money exchanged hands, but the cost of the investigation to NRMA was more than $5000."

Defence barrister Michael Copley said Herden had turned his life around significantly since the drug trafficking conviction and this matter stemmed from around the same period of time.

He said since his release from jail in June, 2013, he was fortunate enough to secure a full-time job working as a truck driver with CSG service company.

"He works two week on then two weeks off at Wandoan," he said.

"He has really turned a corner and has started his life afresh.

"His long-term partner has also put him on notice that if there are anymore issues with drugs or the law then she will walk away from the relationship.

"She stood by him when he was in jail and they are now engaged and are planning their wedding and future life together."

Judge Brad Farr said if it was not for Herden's genuine attempts at rehabilitation and the fact he had learnt from his previous brush with the law he would have served an actual custody sentence.

Judge Farr sentenced Herden to 12 months behind bars but ordered he be released immediately on parole.


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