An Irishman has been ordered to attend a correctional centre and carry out unpaid community work, over offences his lawyer likened in court to scenes from the comedy film The Hangover.
Meath man Michael Hegarty must attend Carlton community corrections centre in Victoria for obtaining property by deception and obtaining financial advantage by deception.
Mr Hegarty, 27, was also sentenced to 90 days imprisonment, with the sentence wholly suspended for a year.
The Irishman has been ordered to perform 150 hours of unpaid community work over the next nine months.
At a sentencing at Melbourne Magistrates Court on yesterday, Mr Hegarty was forbidden from speaking to his younger associates, Laurence Pawalczyk or Daniel Pike for a period of 12 months.
The trio were arrested in Sydney in January after using illegally obtained credit card numbers to live the high life over a period of six weeks.
Mr Hegarty and his associates were targeted in a special operation by the Victorian Police fraud and extortion squad, after they bought credit card numbers on an internet site for $9 each.
The team uncovered that the trio had defrauded a sum of between $30,000 and $35,000, between October and December 2011, with the two younger offenders posing as children of rich parents.
They began their lavish splurge in Melbourne, booking into five star hotel Crown Towers, treating themselves to gourmet dinners at expensive restaurants and traveling by limousine. The men then booked Qantas flights to travel the Gold Coast, visiting Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island, where they damaged a golf buggy while drunk and were escorted from the resort.
They also stayed at the luxury Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast and later at the Hilton in Surfers Paradise, where they ran drunk through the foyer wearing balaclavas. At a hearing at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday, Mr Pawlaczyk, Mr Pike and Mr Hegarty, all of no fixed address, each pleaded guilty to multiple deception-related charges.
The court was told that the men had first tested the cards’ viability by making donations to the Red Cross before they began their spending spree.
Mr Hegarty’s lawyer, Katherine Rolfe compared the trio’s extravagant spree to the wild bachelor party that is central to the plot of Todd Phillips’ comedy films, The Hangover. “I don’t want to make light of the situation,” she told the magistrate, Lance Martin.
“But you may be familiar with the film The Hangover?’ ”This is the case of The Hangover gone wrong,” she continued.
“And Mr Hegarty has borne the brunt of that.” She claimed that both the Irishman’s co-defendants and the police agreed he was the “weakest link”. She described him as a naive older man whom Mr Pawlaczyk admitted they corrupted and ”socially engineered”.
Jacqui Hession, representing Mr Pawlaczyk, said her client had a background of drug and alcohol abuse, and mixing with the wrong associates, which led to frequent offending.
Mr Pike’s lawyer, Nadia Morales, said her client met Mr Pawlaczyk in custody in Tasmania and had similar substance-abuse issues including an ”ice” habit.
Mr Martin sentenced Mr Pawlaczyk to 103 days jail, already served on remand, and a 12-month community correction order (CCO) that included 200 hours of unpaid work.
Mr Martin sentenced Pike to 102 days jail, already served on remand, and a 12-month CCO with core conditions that include supervision and treatment for drug, alcohol and mental health issues.