Notorious conman Peter Foster has walked free from a Sydney court after being sentenced for using a false name to get an investor to spend more than $1.3 million on an offshore betting licence.
The 56-year-old, who arrived more than six hours late for his sentencing on Friday, had pleaded guilty to making a false statement with intent to obtain financial advantage.
He used the pseudonym Mark Hughes because he knew an internet search would alert his victim to his true identity.
Foster also pleaded guilty to knowingly possessing a false Irish passport, in the name of Kevin Anthony McMullan but bearing Foster’s photo, and admitted having an international driver’s license bearing his photo and a Bank of Ireland Visa debit card, both in the McMullan name.
Foster was extradited from Queensland to NSW in February 2017, and spent one year five months and 23 days on remand in custody, until he was granted bail in August.
In Central Local Court on Friday, Magistrate John Andrews backdated his jail term to when Foster first went into custody, imposing a minimum jail term which would have expired in July – meaning he has already served his time.
He also placed him on a $500, 12-month good behaviour bond.
“It is apparent that the offences are serious and the court has to indicate that by imposition of a custodial sentence,” the magistrate said.
“(Foster) has a lengthy criminal history, primarily in other jurisdictions, and history of similar offending.”
The conman’s real identity was revealed in August 2013 when a partner of Sports Trading Club sent a text to the investor naming Foster instead of by his pseudonym.
The investor had exchanged telephone and Skype video calls with a clean-shaven, overweight man he believed was Hughes, but when he searched the Foster name on the internet he found he had been duped.
Foster also was overheard by an employee answering his phone calls as Hughes.
When asked about this, he replied: “Well I can’t use Foster, can I?”
He was due to be sentenced at 9.30am on Friday, but his lawyer Justin Lewis handed up a medical certificate saying Foster possibly had food poisoning and had missed his plane from the Gold Coast.
Foster finally touched down in Sydney at 3.05pm, catching a train into the city, before Mr Andrews imposed the sentence before the magistrate could leave for his planned holiday.