Criminal Law

By Rachael Scott


Ever Growing Jailed Politicians Club

Eddie Obeid is not the first politician to do a stint behind bars for criminal activity, but he is the latest and one of the oldest.

Mr Obeid was found guilty by a jury on 28 June for lobbying a bureaucrat in 2006 in an attempt to secure favourable outcomes on cafe leases located at Circular Quay, without disclosing that he had a financial interest in them. He was sentenced on 14 December to five years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of three years.

Appearing via video link today from Silverwater Prison, the former NSW MP heard that he was to spend Christmas behind bars, after his latest bail application was denied. His appeal is unlikely to be heard until March of 2017.

Mr Obeid’s initial bail application, immediately following his sentence on 14 December, was denied on grounds that mitigating factors such as his close-knit family, age and ill health were of “no real assistance” to the man’s plea for no jail time. Judge Robert Beech-Jones further stated that “no penalty other than imprisonment” was appropriate.

In his latest bail application, his lawyers filed written submissions that Mr Obeid had “significant health problems” and it would be a “tragedy” if he was subsequently acquitted after spending “a significant portion of time, including the Christmas period, in prison and away from his family”. The application was ultimately rejected on the grounds that the appeal case was arguable, but not “sufficiently strong” to warrant the former MP being released on bail.

He will be facing another criminal trial in the New Year in relation to an allegedly corrupt $30 million coal deal at Mount Penny near Mudgee, as well as the impending appeal early in the New Year.