Paul Joseph Morrison, 46, admitted fraud related to 2011 Lockyer Valley flood relief efforts.
Paul Joseph Morrison, 46, admitted fraud related to 2011 Lockyer Valley flood relief efforts. Ross Irby/Queensland Times

Flood fraudster's appeal a washout

LETHAL floods spurred some people to help with reconstruction work.

But bankrupt businessman Paul Joseph Morrison was jailed for his role in relief efforts after the 2011 Lockyer Valley catastrophe.

At Ipswich in September, Judge Dennis Lynch sentenced Morrison to three years' jail, suspended after six months.

Morrison had pleaded guilty to fraud involving the National Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

But Morrison, now 46, told Queensland Court of Appeal his jail term should have been immediately suspended.

In an appeal court judgment published on Thursday, Justice Peter Davis described Morrison's ambiguous personality.

On one hand, Morrison was said to be involved with the rural fire brigade and other community works.

But Morrison's criminal history cast doubt on claims he was a virtuous man.

Justice Davis said Morrison was previously convicted and sentenced to six years' jail for crimes including passing valueless cheques and aggravated fraud.

"It cannot be said you are a person of good character and you are not deserving of the allowance that is usually made in that respect," Judge Dennis Lynch said in September.

Morrison's barrister told the appeal court those sentencing remarks were problematic, and the sentence was manifestly excessive.

But the appeal court said Judge Lynch was right to consider Morrison's criminal history when sentencing him.

The appeal court said Judge Lynch acknowledged Morrison was remorseful, had health problems, and had "offered full restitution".

It took years for Morrison to be held accountable for the 2011 fraud.

Lockyer Valley Regional Council distributed money from the Commonwealth relief fund for clean-up and repairs.

Morrison, bankrupt at the time, seemed to be a director of Agstock Rural Pty Ltd.

Morrison admitted making eight false declarations in a scam that ultimately left subcontractors short of $71,448.25.

"While other sentences may have been open, the sentence cannot be said to be manifestly excessive," Justice Davis said.

The appeal was dismissed. -NewsRegional