13 August 2013


In Corruption and Crime Commission v Stokes [2013] WASC 282 the Supreme Court of Western Australia has considered the spent conviction order imposed on a senior public servant for disclosing official secrets.

The WA Corruption and Crime Commission failed in its appeal to set aside the spent conviction order imposed on a former deputy director of the Department of Industry and Resources (DOIR) for disclosing official secrets, in particular correspondence from the DOIR Director-General to the Director-General of the Department of Planning and Infrastructure regarding the rezoning of land suitable for commercial mining.  The Commission's report on its investigation [PDF] was published in 2008.

Stokes was charged with disclosing official secrets contrary to s 81 of the Criminal Code 1913 (WA). The Magistrate imposed a fine of $1500 and granted a spent conviction order. The Commission sought leave to appeal on the basis that the magistrate erred by

  • finding that the offence which the respondent was convicted was a minor example of an offence of its type. 
  • finding that general deterrence was not a significant factor in the sentencing exercise or in the consideration of whether to make a spent conviction order. 
  • imposing a spent conviction order in circumstances where it was not appropriate to do so. 

In rejecting the appeal Heenan J found that in sentencing the respondent the Magistrates Court of Western Australia properly estimated the seriousness of the respondent's offence and comprehensively addressed the statutory criteria in imposing a spent conviction order.