‘Greedy’ ex-NRL player’s wife avoids jail over Centrelink fraud



David Fifita and wife Jade Fifita nee Robinson

Jade Robinson – also legally known as Jade Fifita – pleaded guilty in June 2017 to two counts of receiving financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity totalling almost $50,000.

In Gosford Local Court in November 2017, magistrate Jennifer Price sentenced the 26-year-old mother-of-three to eight months’ imprisonment, with a three-month non-parole period, for misrepresenting her true circumstances. Read the original article on her sentencing in November 2017.

However, the magistrate adjourned the matter until January so Robinson can be assessed for home detention, in which case she would avoid any jail time.

With husband, former NRL player David Fifita looking on, a relieved Jade Robinson bowed her head as a magistrate told her today that she would not be jailed for fraudulently pocketing almost $50,000 from Centrelink when claiming to be a struggling single mum.

Gosford Local Court Magistrate Jennifer Price on Thursday said she had decided to sentence Robinson – also known as Jade Fifita – to home detention despite the consistent and persistent way she had greedily rorted the system at taxpayers’ expense.

Robinson, 26, used the single-parent Centrelink payments to buy clothes and a new car to try to keep up an outward appearance of success.

She pleaded guilty to two counts of receiving financial advantage from a commonwealth entity after she was found to have fraudulently received $48,500 in Centrelink benefits over almost five years.

Robinson was sentenced in November 2017 to eight months’ jail with a non-parole period of three months but the case was adjourned until Thursday so she could be assessed for home detention.

Ms Price, who handed down her decision via audiovisual link from Port Macquarie Local Court, said she would exercise her discretion and allow Robinson to serve her sentence via home detention.

The magistrate said Robinson would have to contact the Blacktown Corrections Services department office as soon as she returned home from Gosford to alert them that she had started her home detention.

Part of Robinson’s home detention conditions included reporting to Blacktown police station within seven days to be photographed and fingerprinted.

Ms Price said if Robinson failed to abide by the conditions of her home detention, the Director of Public Prosecutions could apply to have the order revoked and have the mother of three sent to jail.

Robinson had first claimed her first single-parent payment in September 2011 and continued to receive benefits until May 2016.

She briefly stopped claiming the payments for a few months in 2013 when she lived in France where Fifita was playing rugby league for French club Lezignan.

Robinson had her payments reinstated on their return to Sydney in June 2013, despite Fifita signing with NRL club Cronulla.

Fifita, the twin brother of Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita, now plays for Wakefield Trinity in the English Super League and was given time off from pre-2018 season training to be with his family over the Christmas-New Year period before his wife’s court appearance on Thursday.

He and Robinson have been together for more than 11 years and have three young children.

Court records showed the couple were married in Thailand in 2014 but Robinson told Centrelink their wedding was in April 2016.

A psychological report found Robinson had “a personality profile that reflected a lack of maturity” and an “inability to extricate herself out of the situation she had caused herself to be in”.

The report stated she “felt the competition to clothe her children … buy a new car and to keep up with others in social activities” but had no narcissistic or antisocial indicators and showed good prospects of rehabilitation.

Divorce after 50: What I wish I had known beforehand

divorce-after-50Divorce is never easy, but couples over 50 who end their marriages face particular hurdles. Below, people who went through a late-in-life divorce share six things they would tell their younger selves, offering ways others can learn from their experiences:

“I wish I had known how the divorce would impact my oldest children even more than my youngest still at home.” Gail Konop, a 57-year-old yoga studio owner whose 2011 divorce ended a 25-year marriage, said her son who lived at home slowly got used to her new reality, which wasn’t as easy for her adult daughters. “He got to see us as individuals living in his life. He saw how there was less stress, and he got used to it. But my daughters are coming home periodically and they couldn’t keep up with the changes.” At one point, Konop says her daughter announced, “I don’t want to come home anymore — it’s so weird.” If you’re considering a divorce and kids are involved, don’t assume you are sparing your children by holding on, only to divorce once they’re out of the house.

“I wish I’d explored the job market before I separated; I think I would have worked harder to try to keep the marriage together if I’d realized just how bleak things are out here.” For older adults, especially women who have been out of the workforce, re-entering it can be more even more challenging than they expect. Look into getting advice from financial and career counselors to consider your options for long- and short-term planning post-divorce. Beth Hodges, a family law attorney at Horack Talley in Charlotte, N.C ., says the input of those experts can be helpful when negotiating the amount of alimony and property settlement.

“Sometimes when we’re negotiating, I have a client who wants to get her degree to increase her earning capacity. We’ll find out what the cost would be to go back to school and get statistics on what type of income my client can expect to receive once she finishes,” which then gets figured into the settlement package, so the main breadwinner will pay for her education instead of alimony.

“I wish I had known how painful it would be.” Kelly James, a ghostwriter who was 50 when she divorced after 19 years of marriage, was surprised by how long it took her to adjust to the loneliness of living alone.

“Even if you don’t have the happiest of marriages, there’s something comforting about having someone in your home, your bed. I’m lonely sometimes and miss being part of a twosome,” says James. “It’s also difficult to not have my kids with me all the time — their dad and I do a good job of co-parenting, but I miss them when they’re at his house.”

In addition to suggesting the pursuit of new hobbies and volunteer opportunities, Beth Hodges recommends therapists to her clients as a way of helping them adjust to their new life. “[Divorce] is a very traumatic, life-rattling experience, especially if you’ve been married for 25 to 35 years,” says Beth Hodges. She reassures her clients that in time, they’ll not only recover, but emerge stronger. “[Divorce] can be transformative,” says Beth Hodges. She tells her clients, “‘You’re going to survive and feel better about yourself and about your future.’ Almost to a person they’ll come back to me and say, ‘You were absolutely right.’”

“I didn’t think my friends would actually bail on me, but I was wrong.” Lynn Cohen, a Chicago-area divorce attorney who serves on the board of the women’s divorce support nonprofit The Lilac Tree, sees it all the time with her older female clients: “A lot of their friends cut them off — even their best friends. You might keep one or two close friends, but that whole crowd is not going to be there. They’ll help you while you’re going through [the divorce] but not after it’s done.”

She advises her clients to get ahead of this social shift and be proactive about expanding their networks by joining groups that set up travel opportunities for single people, and by volunteering. “If you’re not active in your community and giving back, you’re kind of by yourself,” Lynn Cohen notes. She also cautions against relying too heavily on divorced friends. “Every divorce is a different set of facts and circumstances and must be viewed individually. They’ll say, ‘When I was divorced, I was able to get everything in the house.’ That’s unnerving and usually bad advice. I tell people that they’re going to have to make their own life,” says Lynn Cohen.

“I wish I had known how expensive it would be.” James was shocked that her uncontested, relatively conflict-free collaborative divorce still cost nearly $35,000.

“In retrospect, a ‘traditional’ would have probably been a lot less expensive,” she says. Collaborative divorce eschews adversarial strategies and litigation. Lynn Cohen advises consulting a divorce attorney as soon as a client suspects she or he may need one to get a jump on figuring out how to pay for the divorce and life after. Alimony may be sparse if a couple already living on retirement savings splits, so would-be divorcées may need time for their exit strategy.

Beth Hodges has a simple tip when it comes to saving divorce attorney fees: stay off the phone. “Sometimes clients run up their bills because they’re constantly calling us and engaging us in half-hour consultations. We’re there to counsel and provide guidance to a client, but there is a cost,” says Beth Hodges.

The first thing you should do when hiring an attorney, she says, is “Ask questions about the attorney’s billing practices, how the lawyer charges. If there are things you can do for the attorneys, like gathering financial information, you can save money by doing that yourself.”

“I wish I had known how liberating it would be — and how that can be a little scary.” Says Gail Konop: “Being only responsible for myself (and my kids) has let me make decisions based on what I want. From little decisions like what to hang on the wall of my house to bigger ones like where to travel and what kinds of projects to do on the house, is all up to me. That feels good but can also be overwhelming. It was like I had a second adolescence. I had so much fun, I knew myself so much better. At first, it was really nerve-racking and the dating world had changed. It was energizing (until it got exhausting.)”

This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org.

The shocking rise of financial abuse involving wills

Could you be a victim of financial abuse?A GOLD Coast woman and her elderly mum walked into lawyer Marie Fedorov’s office. Alarm bells immediately started ringing.

GOLD Coast lawyer Marie Fedorov “smelled a rat” when an elderly woman came into her office with her adult daughter to change her will.

The daughter did all the talking and told Ms Fedorov that her mother wanted her to be the sole beneficiary of the will.

“When I questioned the elderly lady to confirm that this was what she wanted, she appeared to not understand what she was at my office for. When I explained this to her she appeared very confused,” Ms Fedorov said.

“The daughter then said to her mother: ‘Remember mum, we’re here to change your will to leave everything to me.’ The elderly lady said: ‘Oh yes. I’m happy to do what my daughter wants me to do, so just tell me where to sign.’”

Ms Fedorov was concerned about the elderly woman’s mental capacity and so asked her some general questions, which she couldn’t answer.

“I recall seeing the daughter become very uncomfortable and she said: ‘Mum only has mild dementia, she is fine.’ But after I obtained the woman’s medical details from her doctor, and realised she was not able to make legal decisions, I refused to prepare the requested legal documents,” Ms Fedorov said.

Ms Fedorov, from Fedorov Lawyers, claims she’s seen a massive increase in financial elder abuse in recent months.

“I’m on the lookout now because I care about seniors and don’t want them to be left high and dry,” Ms Fedorov said. “Sadly, a large number of victims are too afraid or too ashamed to speak up while others fear being isolated from their family.”

A report by the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit, shows a 20 per cent increase in reported cases of financial abuse from 2014-15 to 2015-16. The report also found that more than three-quarters of perpetrators reported between 2015 and 2016 were related to the victims.

The NSW Elder Abuse Helpline was receiving up to 180 calls a month in 2017.

Ms Fedorov had another upsetting experience when a real estate agent organised an elderly coupleappointment with his ‘friend’, an elderly woman. The man told Ms Fedorov the woman wanted to change her will and leave a large portion of her estate to him.

“Our meeting was at the woman’s home because she was unwell. She couldn’t walk and so she was confined to a chair in the living room,” Ms Fedorov said. “The man wouldn’t leave the room, even though I asked to speak to the woman alone. But, when I asked the man to get me a glass of water, I had a few minutes alone with the lady.

“She told me she’d only recently met the man, as he was trying to get the listing for her house and promised her that, if she put him in her will, he’d get her a better price for her house. I quickly organised to see the woman on another day, without the real estate agent, and we were able to finalise her will without the real estate agent being involved.”

The Queensland Government recently introduced tough laws offering sanctions for guardians, administrators or those holding power of attorney who are accountable for financial abuse towards seniors.

Anyone taking on the role as a paid carer for the elderly person within the previous three years would be excluded from holding such power.

Ms Fedorov believes a major cause of financial abuse of the elderly is “inheritance expectation”.

“Many people expect to receive assets from their parents and will coerce seniors into signing wills or enduring power of attorney in order to get all of their assets prior to the older person’s death,” Ms Fedorov said.

“Often, people are doing ‘dodgy deals’ so they can transfer all of the assets and put their parents in a nursing home.”

In another recent case, Ms Fedorov saw an elderly woman and her two daughters, who were trying to have the mother change her will to exclude one of the other sisters.

When Ms Fedorov asked why she wanted to leave her daughter out of her will, she explained her other daughters asked her to.

“When I spoke to the mother alone, she told me she didn’t want to change her will and that she only came to my office because her daughters insisted,” Ms Fedorov said.

“I explained to her daughters that their mother did not want to leave their sister out of the will. The daughters were not happy, but I was pleased the mother was able to leave her will as it was, to include all of her daughters.”

Ms Fedorov advises elderly people to see a lawyer without having friends or family in the room. Lawyers frequently come across the elderly being bullied, so they have developed strategies to help people through the process.

‘It’s mine, I got it after we broke up’, (Inheritance, Divorce & Property Disputes)

court-judgmentIn family law disputes it is a common misconception that an inheritance or other large sum received after separation will be excluded from the property pool to be divided between the parties.

This issue was dealt with in the recent case of Calvin & McTier [2017] FAMCAFC 125.

The Full Court of the Family Court of Australia in Western Australia heard an Appeal by a husband who argued that an inheritance received 4 years after separation should not be included in the property to be divided between him and his ex-wife.

The parties were married for 8 years and were divorced in 2011.They had one child who was 5 years old at the time of separation.

In 2014 the husband received an inheritance from his father’s estate.

The wife commenced proceedings more than 3 years after separation and was granted the Court’s leave under Section 44 (3) of the Family Law Act to pursue a property settlement claim.

The trial Judge found that the net value of the assets to be divided between the parties was $1,340,319 of which, in percentage terms, the remaining inheritance of $430,686 accounted for approximately 32% of the asset pool.  The husband tried unsuccessfully to exclude his inheritance from the asset pool. The trial judge assessed contributions as 75%/25% in the husband’s favour and, after making a 10% adjustment to the wife for future needs, divided the property 65%/35% in favour of the husband

The husband appealed the decision.

The central issue on appeal was whether the trial Judge erred by including the husband’s post separation inheritance within the parties’ property pool available for division.  The husband argued that his inheritance should not be included in the pool because of the degree of “connection” or more to the point, the lack of connection, between the inheritance and the parties’ matrimonial relationship.  The husband was unsuccessful in taking that position and his appeal was dismissed.

The Justices of the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia, Chief Justice Bryant, Justice Ryan and Justice Aldridge concluded that the Court retained a discretion as to how to approach the treatment of property acquired after separation.

The Full Court have approved this decision in two other cases, Holland & Holland [2017] FamCAFC 166 and Widmann & Widmann [2017] FamCAFC 602.

Interestingly in the NSW case of Holland & Holland [2017] FamCAFC 166 the inheritance was not included in the asset pool.

It is important you obtain legal advice about your particular circumstances before you make any decisions about dividing your property as a there is no one way the Court will deal with post separation assets.

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Nationwide Domestic Violence Protection Laws come into Force

nationwide protection of domestic violence victimsA Gold Coast family law specialist has responded to a new law put in place for nationwide protection of domestic violence victims.

Pullos Lawyers’ Cassandra Pullos has commended the “new layer of protection” put in place which sees all domestic violence orders issued anywhere in Australia to be automatically recognised and enforced nationwide under a new National Domestic Violence Order Scheme (NDVOS).

Ms Pullos called the new law a landmark step in the ongoing campaign against domestic violence, explaining that the previous system was confusing and fell short.

The previous law meant that DVOs issued in Queensland and elsewhere were not automatically recognised in other states or territories, meaning that the victim wasn’t protected if they decided to cross the border where their DVO was issued.

“The Council of Australian Governments in late 2015 agreed each jurisdiction should introduce model laws to automatically enforce domestic violence court orders across state and territory borders,” Ms Pullos said.

“However, until recently the scheme was not fully co-ordinated nationwide.”

Under the new law, domestic violence victims will still be covered if they cross state or territory borders, resulting in much greater protection.

Ms Pullos said the new law means DV perpetrators will be held accountable for breaches of domestic violence orders or apprehended violence orders (AVOs).

“It’s about making DV offenders fully accountable for their behaviour,” Ms Pullos said.

“Existing state and territory laws to protect victims and affected family members from domestic violence have not changed. Local police will still enforce the conditions regardless of where the DVO was issued.

“However prior to 25 November 2017, DVOs applied only in the state or territory where they were issued. Now they automatically apply everywhere.”

Sydney lawyer Victor Berger struck off for overcharging elderly woman $137,543

NSW Civil and Administrative TribunalSydney solicitor Victor Berger made regular phone calls to a frail and elderly client, checking on her health, her relationship with her children, and her housework.

Months before the woman died, aged in her 90s, Mr Berger sent her family members a bill for $176,800.

The June 2012 bill charged $90,527 for “non-legal work”, such as the personal phone calls to the woman, known as Mrs N.

After her unit was sold, Mr Berger directed the buyer to pay $154,000 into his bank account, despite it being trust money belonging to Mrs N’s estate. He later had $20,000 transferred from the trust money to his son-in-law.

An assessor found Mr Berger overcharged the woman by $137,543.

Five years earlier, Mr Berger went to an intensive care ward and oversaw an 84-year-old dementia patient sign over power of attorney to her daughter, without speaking to medical staff about her ability to understand the decision.
The daughter then took $1 million to put into her own superannuation, and sold millions of dollars’ worth of her mother’s shares.

The Guardianship Tribunal of NSW found the mother did not have the capacity to sign over power of attorney to the daughter, and Mr Berger was cautioned by the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner of NSW.

Those cases were among more than 70 complaints against Mr Berger between 1996 and 2013.

Last week the Civil and Administrative Tribunal of NSW ordered Mr Berger be removed from the roll of local lawyers, after finding him guilty of a wide range of conduct, including overcharging in the case of Mrs N, misappropriation of funds from various estates, and failing to disclose costs.

The tribunal found Mr Berger posed as a charitable, upstanding member of the community, while ripping off his clients.

Mr Berger provided the tribunal with 12 character witnesses from prominent people, including unnamed senior barristers, a federal MP, and a retired Supreme Court judge.

“The clients who were found to be victims of the practitioner’s misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct were not Rabbis; they were not members of parliament, judges, senior counsel or prominent members of the community,” the tribunal’s judgment said.

“Some of them were old; some were frail; some had cognitive decline; and some lacked the support of family and friends.

“The tribunal has concluded that the professional misconduct and the unsatisfactory professional conduct were aspects of the practitioner’s behaviour that he concealed from most of the people he mixed with in the community and in his charitable, professional and religious activities.”

How to have a Good Divorce

Fergus Herbert says divorce cost him financially

Fergus Herbert says his divorce saw him to lose “financial momentum”. Photo: Jessica Hromas

Getting divorced is rarely a happy occasion, but many couples at least manage a civilised one.

Marriages that end in divorce typically last about 12 years, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures from 2014. That’s certainly long enough to build up joint assets.

If you can come to a fair settlement without involving the courts and minimising lawyers, everyone will be better off, both financially and emotionally.

Mediators and family lawyers say the key is to rebuild trust.

“If you wish to come to a settlement without the involvement of third parties or court, the financial needs of your ex will need to be accommodated,” says Jacqueline Wharton, the founder of Separation and Divorce Advisors with offices in Sydney and Melbourne.

“If things get nasty, hundreds of thousands can be spent on lawyers and court.”

Fergus Herbert describes his divorce four years ago, at the age of 50, as “relatively amicable”.

He remains on good terms with his ex-wife, who is the mother of his two children, and believes it was made easier by the fact they both received advice to help establish trust and reach a middle ground in negotiations.

He received advice from Wharton and his ex-wife from a financial planner.

“Receiving financial planning advice before agreeing to terms in a financial agreement is key to optimising your financial circumstances post-divorce” says Bill Savellis from the Financial Advisor. “Divorcees rarely consider the tax implications of the agreement, often leaving one or both of them with unforeseen additional expenses, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Both of teh Wharton’s children were over 18 at the time of the divorce. “We both went to Turkey to visit our children who were on a gap year to tell them personally about the split because they are more important than anything else,” Fergus Herbert says.

Herbert says he and his ex-wife were both dissatisfied with the property settlement, which probably means they struck the right balance.

But with the benefit of hindsight, Herbert says he was perhaps a little too quick to settle, leaving him with too little time to think through his post-divorce life.

“I’m a deal maker and just wanted to get it done,” says Herbert, who works in venture capital.

Herbert tells friends who are going through divorce to take their time.

The couple sold the family home in Sydney as part of the financial settlement and Herbert says it is “incredibly difficult” to afford to buy back into the Sydney market.

Perhaps the division of assets, which included investment properties, could have been configured differently to make buying back into the Sydney market a realistic option for him.

“When you have equity in real estate you can make further investments and grow your wealth for the future,” he says.

Herbert rents in Sydney and has a house in Byron Bay.

“The divorce has seen me lose financial momentum,” he says. “It will take years to get back to where I was with my ex-wife.”

Keeping it civil

Les Stubbs, the director of family law at Harris Freidman Lawyers in Sydney, says it’s important to gather as much financial information as possible.

Many people are not across the finances – they may not know how much is owed on the mortgage or how much the other person earns.

The law allows the asking of questions about the finances of the other person.

But the chances of an amicable divorce are much higher if both people are open and transparent about their finances, Les Stubbs says.

It needs to be everything – incomes, debts, superannuation, credit cards and inheritances.

If a lawyer has to write a letter asking for financial details that immediately puts that person on the defensive, he says.

Family lawyer, Geoff Wilson of HopgoodGanim Lawyers in Brisbane, says it’s no use hiding assets.

“People think that they are being clever when they start playing these games but they are just exacerbating the situation,” Wilson says.

Separating couples should not change their financial arrangements until there is a financial agreement in place, he says.

If one person is making the mortgage repayment they should continue to do so, he says.

Otherwise, sudden changes to financial arrangements, apart from creating chaos with the finances, just makes matters worse between the two people, Wilson says.

No-fault divorce

Wharton says it is important to recognise from the outset that it is unlikely that you are ever going to be thrilled with the financial outcome of your divorce.

While you have financial needs and wants, your ex-partner has valid interests too.

She says under Australia’s “no fault” divorce laws it is pointless thinking that the law will provide you with financial compensation for any emotional hurt or that how much money you receive will reflect your “worth” in the relationship.

“This means that your ex will not be financially punished by the law for having an affair or for walking out,” she says.

“Trying to use the law to punish the other side or for revenge is expensive and time consuming,” Wharton says.

Financial agreements

Ian Macleod, from RP Emery & Associates, a publisher of legal documents says lawyers can thrive on conflict. And with fees of about $400 an hour, a divorce can quickly become very expensive.

“I’m not anti-lawyer but people need to understand that if things cannot be worked out between you that you will be much better off using mediation, where you sit down and nut something out,” he says.

There are lawyers who offer mediation services as well as mediation services offered by others, including organisations such as Relationships Australia. There are even accredited “divorce coaches”.

Having a lawyer draw up a financial agreement, where both partners agree on division of assets, will likely cost about $5000. But it can be more if it is not relatively straightforward.

It is not absolutely necessary to have a financial agreement or court order but most people prefer to have the certainly of an agreement.

And a financial agreement or a court order may have to be shown in some states and territories to avoid triggering stamp duty when ownership of the jointly owned family home is transferred to one name.

And one or the other could be needed to defer the payment of any capital gains tax when transferring investment property from one party to another.

You don’t have to have a financial agreement drawn up by a lawyer.

Financial agreements can be bought online, such as through services like RP Emery & Associates, where assistance will be provided by a non-lawyer to help fill out the agreement.

To make an agreement valid, each party has to receive independent legal advice to ensure the agreement is completed correctly. The lawyers will also explain that by signing the agreement you are giving up your right to have the agreement changed later by a court.

Macleod says downloading the agreement kit and filling it out yourselves is only viable for amicable break-ups, where the finances are fairly straightforward.

But the total costs for straightforward cases, including the cost of independent legal advice, could be well under $2000, he says.

Child support

Child support and child maintenance (for over 18-year-olds) is separate from property settlements and is administered through the Department of Human Services (DHS).

There is a calculator for working out child support payments on the DHS website.

It is based on factors including income and percentage of care.

Even if a parent does not spend any time with their child, they will still be responsible for child support payments.

Parents can have a private agreement or have a written agreement.

Parents can arrange for the DHS to collect and enforce payments of child support and maintenance.

Dad wrongfully jailed on false child sexual abuse allegations seeks compensation

falsely-accused-fatherA father who was wrongfully jailed after his estranged partner accused him of sexually abusing his own son has vowed to turn “his worst nightmare” into a greater good and help iron out faults in WA’s justice system.

The father of one, who cannot be named for legal reasons, spent more than seven months in a WA jail for a child sex offence he was innocent of.

His lawyer said the case “demonstrated systemic failures at every level” and sparked an internal probe into the police investigation at the time.

The father, who is in his 40s, has spoken publicly about his ordeal to WAtoday for the first time, detailing his ongoing battle to obtain an ex-gratia payment over the botched police investigation and subsequent prosecution, which led to him being charged and jailed for three years.

He said the horrendous ordeal fuelled his wish to spark positive changes in WA’s justice system.

“I do not want a story that shows only how bad a system can be, I would truly like to work with the relevant departments and show the public that although mistakes happen, the people in charge are willing to implement the necessary safe guards to keep the trust of the people,” he said.

“Demonstrable failings are present at every decision point and giving the authorities an opportunity to correct their mistake and prevent anything like this occurring to another person is very important to me.”

‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’

The State Government told WAtoday whilst it continued to seek advice on the man’s application for an ex-gratia payment, it was currently giving the case “significant consideration.”

The father’s nightmare started in 2013 when he was charged with three child sex related offences by WA detectives.

The complainant in the case was the man’s son.

The boy’s mother, and the man’s ex-wife, made the allegations to police in the midst of a Family Court battle about access to the boy.

The father always denied the allegations and the case went to trial.

But he was found guilty of one of the three charges – sexually penetrating a child who was a lineal relative – and jailed for more than three years.

He served seven and a half months in prison before the WA Court of Appeal overturned his conviction in July 2015.

The Court of Appeal judgement made note of the fact that during the Family Court proceedings, the man’s ex-wife said words to the effect: “You’ve got no idea the length a scorned woman will go to.”

Then WA Court of Appeal President Carmel McLure said she also had “doubts about the credibility” of the mother’s evidence and that there was a “real risk” the complainant’s evidence was “contaminated” by the mother.

“The fact that these deliberate perversions of justice occur (in WA) with alarming regularity, more so than in any other state in Australia is demonstrative of an inherent weakness in the justice system,” the father told WAtoday.

“Ignoring this fact and taking no action to correct it, is akin to promoting corruption within the justice system, allowing it to be manipulated.”

‘I want to move on with my life’

In January 2016, the man’s lawyer Neville Barber lodged an application to then WA Attorney General Michael Mischin for an ex-gratia payment, for the suffering he endured.

The application still hasn’t been approved – more than 18 months after it was first requested.

The new WA Attorney General John Quigley must now consider it.

A government spokesperson stressed Mr Quigley was giving “significant consideration” to the matter.

“As is appropriate given the complicated background to this matter, the Attorney General is giving significant consideration to this matter,” the spokesperson said.

“The (WA) Attorney General continues to obtain and consider advice and is consulting within government in relation to this matter.”

But the father said he was feeling frustrated by the lack of action on his ex-gratia application.

“I find this delay terribly disappointing,” the father said.

“Mr Quigley, has in the past been very outspoken about the lack of compensation paid to victims of state errors.

“I wish this application to be finalised, so I can move on with my life and the ongoing delay is having a real impact on me.”

Mr Barber said he was also “very concerned” about the delays in having all the matters resolved.

A botched police investigation

Meanwhile, an internal investigation into the original police inquiry which led to the father being charged in 2013 has been occurring behind the scenes.

It’s understood three officers who were involved in the original inquiry are in the process of being “sanctioned”.

However, it’s believed no final decision has been made on what sanctions they will face and WA Police maintain the matter is still not finalised.

Senior police took the case so seriously however that earlier this year Assistant Commissioner Michelle Fyfe and Commander Pryce Scanlan from the WA State Crime Division, held a meeting with the father in the eastern states where he now lives, to update him on the internal investigation.

The father said the meeting left him “encouraged” that from a WA Police perspective, steps were being taken to address shortcomings.

“I also greatly appreciated that they accepted responsibility on behalf of WA Police and offered an apology,” he said.

“Bad things happen, but if good can come out of them, we as a society will be better off for them.”

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The convenience of the Homemade Will – it’s cheap and easy to draw up

Sample Will FormatHalf of all Australians die without a will, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, meaning the law decides where your assets go, potentially favouring relatives you resent.

Making a will is vital, but can cost from $150 to thousands of dollars, if you use professional channels. Here are some tips on how to do it yourself, with intense attention to detail.

  1. Harness online resources

Study sample wills on the internet to strengthen your grasp of how to structure yours. Find numerous examples on the Family Law Express Sample Legal Documents portal.

  1. Be picky about the key players

Find the most objective witnesses possible: those with the least to inherit, experts say. The executor – the person who carries out the terms of your will – should be someone set to outlive you: a much younger person.

  1. Sound out relatives

Discuss plans with your family – even seek their input, says estate planner Bruce Cameron. “It doesn’t hurt to know ahead of time which of your family members wants your collection of garden gnomes, grandma’s china, or the silver tea service,” Bruce Cameron says. Lack of discussion may spark entitlement feuding, he adds.

  1. Keep it explicit

Be exact, says Bruce Cameron. Instead of identifying heirs by name alone, include details such as their birth date, address and relationship to you.

Likewise, do not just denote your home by its street address – include its legal description on the deed. And, instead of just listing a charity by name, give detailed contact information.

  1. Insert stopgaps

State where your assets will go if heirs and beneficiaries prove unavailable, unable or unwilling to claim their inheritance, says Bruce Cameron. For instance, the beneficiary might “predecease” you. Or, if a beneficiary is a charity, it might have stopped operating.

  1. Don’t preach

Resist the urge to hit back from the grave. A clause saying that someone will only inherit if they quit gambling and drinking and wed someone at least 180cm tall and five years their senior may spark court battles rather than reform behaviour, says Bruce Cameron.

  1. Keep tweaking

Don’t think you can just write your will and relax, says Bruce Cameron. Regularly update and rewrite your will, reviewing it upon changes such as the birth or adoption of a child, divorce or retirement.

Revision may also be necessary when you open a new bank account, buy a car or move house, he says.

  1. Know the neighbourhood

Mug up on your state’s inheritance rules, because they vary depending on your location, warns lawyer Shane Fischer.

The Government’s “Wills and power of attorney” page offers state-specific information.

Remember that in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania, on the day someone divorces, any previous will is revoked, according to RP Emery and Associates.

  1. Exclude the estranged

Don’t bequeath peanuts to disenfranchised friends and family. For instance, forget leaving a dollar to the daughter you have not talked to in 10 years, because she could cause havoc with your estate by challenging your will, Fischer warns.

If you want to disinherit the person, write: “I do not leave anything for ‘X’, my daughter. This is intentional,” Fischer says.

  1. Pinpoint the paperwork

Tell a close contact the location of your will and final wishes statement, Fischer says. Otherwise, your heirs may pick your home apart in search of the information. If they fail, you may get cremated when you should be buried.