Andrew Main | The Australian | 10 November 2011
CONVICTED insider trader John Hartman was given an excessive sentence in December by Justice Peter McClellan, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal was told yesterday.
Surprisingly, it was the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions' barrister, Robert Beech-Jones SC, who made that pitch yesterday, and not Hartman's barrister Tim Game SC.
The CDPP prosecuted the case on behalf of regulator the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, which has been trying to encourage defendants to plead guilty to insider trading charges rather than tie up the courts for long trials. Such guilty pleas attract shorter sentences.
Mr Beech-Jones told the judges the prosecution believed there had been an error in Justice McClellan's approach to sentencing in that he did not give a sufficient discount for the extent of Hartman's co-operation with the authorities in the lead-up to him being sentenced on December 2 last year.
He pleaded guilty to 19 charges of insider trading by "front running" institutional orders and six charges of passing information between March 2006 and January 2009.
Justice McClellan, Chief Judge at Common Law of the NSW Supreme Court, sentenced Hartman to 4 1/2 years' jail with a three-year minimum, the longest sentence of its type in recent years. Hartman, who had been a $350,000 a year fund manager at Orion Asset Management, appealed against the sentence on December 29 last year. He is eligible for parole on December 1, 2013.
One of the three judges hearing the appeal yesterday, Justice Michael Adams, expressed concern that while Hartman was aware what he had been doing was wrong, the depression he was suffering produced compulsive behaviour he had not been able to control.
The other judges on the appeal were justices Anthony Whealy, who chaired the panel, and Megan Latham.