News National Craig Thomson’s odd reaction to calls for a long jail term
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Craig Thomson’s odd reaction to calls for a long jail term

AAP
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Craig Thomson should be squirming, but he isn’t. Although the courtroom is clammy – the usual fug of air conditioning, nerves and legalese – sweat does not bead his less-than-furrowed brow.

This week, potentially, Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg could send Thomson to a cell block and whatever special peril awaits the somewhat famous.

“They took care of Hinch in Barwon,” Mr Rozencwajg has failed to reassure Thomson’s QC Greg James, who argues his client, unlike Hinch, has no beard to shave off and become anonymous.

In Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, Mr James QC is trying to keep Thomson out of jail.

Thomson doesn’t blush. He listens impassively and thumbs his wedding ring absently.

He argues that it is not like Thomson has deliberately robbed a bank. Thomson, he says, was instead seeking comfort. His crimes were a combination of emotional need and opportunism.

Thomson listens to that with no visible emotion. His eyes do not shy away from the lawyers or the magistrate as he watches proceedings. There is no shamed head-hanging or eye-dabbing.

The prosecution and defence have agreed on the extent of the less-than-bank robbing based on close to 20 fat folders of evidence it takes two people to lug.

They have decided 65 charges and $24,538.42 does it. That is how much Thomson has agreed to pay back to the Health Services Union whose cards he hoed into.

Champagne and a fair wad of paid sex are part of the charges, both credit card and criminal.

Kathy Jackson, national secretary of the HSU, arrives at court. Source: AAP.
Kathy Jackson, national secretary of the HSU, arrives at court. Source: AAP.

Mr James QC says Thomson was driven by need and desire.

Thomson doesn’t blush. He listens impassively and thumbs his wedding ring absently. He spins it around. The ring is loose. It would easily slide off over the knuckle, should the need or desire arise.

Mr James QC stresses that Thomson is convicted of taking money, not of spending money on prostitutes, and that Union auditing was sloppy.

“If he hadn’t spent the money on prostitutes and porn movies, there is unlikely to have been concern,” Mr James QC says.

The court hears Thomson will do it tougher in jail than a stock standard thief, and already has.

“They don’t have photographing in through the bathroom window,” Mr James QC says. “They don’t have their child attacked verbally in their school.”

He says Thomson stayed on in parliament through loyalty, that he was a cleanskin before being charged, a member of three lifesaving clubs and a fund-raising wheelchair pusher.

He has no real career now, or any prospect, Mr James QC says.

Prosecutor Lesley Taylor SC, unswayed, says Thomson should be jailed without hesitation.

She says remorse and contrition are startlingly absent and the union he robbed represents some of the lowest paid workers. Thomson’s contemptuous behaviour, she says, hurt all trade unions.

“His corrupt behaviour has damaged the reputation of all of them,” she say.

“It was selfish and done only for his own gain and his own gratification.”

Champagne and a fair wad of paid sex are part of the charges, both credit card and criminal.

Thomson looks over at her, marginally more animated, but with no great discomfort or anguish.

As a union leader, Labor candidate, MP, disgraced MP,  Government balance-of-power and now convicted thief, maybe he has heard worse.

The judge decides to take a week to think on it and leaves Thomson free on bail. The court is adjourned and the magistrate leaves.

For the first time in more than two hours, Thomson smiles.