A WARRNAMBOOL man who used a string of false identities with gas and electricity providers and raked up almost $9500 in debt has been placed on a community corrections order.
Edward Michael Byrne, 43, of Ekard Avenue, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court on this week to 20 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception.
The court heard Byrne made false accounts with Origin Energy, Red Energy, Australia Power and Gas, TRU Energy, Telstra, Austar and Do-Do dating back to 2007.
A four-page summary of charges detailing how Byrne created false names, licence and passport numbers was handed to magistrate Jonathan Klestadt.
In December last year detectives from the Warrnambool criminal investigation unit began a six-month investigation, code-named Blueball, into Byrne’s activities.
The operation centred around intelligence that Byrne had fraudulently obtained gas, electricity and telecommunications company’s products and services by creating accounts in false or fictitious names.
The court heard Byrne’s sole intention was to evade any debt arising from the use of gas, electricity and telecommunications products.
The court heard that Byrne created a new or different account with the same or different service provider under a false or fictitious name each time a substantial debt had been reached, which triggered the company involved to disconnect the service.
Between late 2007 and May 29 this year, Byrne used the false name of Paul Tully to get mobile, home phone and internet services from Telstra, incurring a debt of $3283.
On another occasion, between February 2010 and August 2010, Byrne set a up false account under the name of Nicky Chesney for an electricity account and incurred $1237 of debt.
Defence counsel John Perry said his client had not denied any of his responsibility for the offences.
He said Byrne moved to Warrnambool in 2000 to be near his children. Mr Perry said Byrne suffered from depression and constant back pain after suffering a prolapsed disc.
He said in 2004 his life spiralled out of control.
Mr Perry said at the time Byrne drank to relieve his back pain and when intoxicated couldn’t resist the temptation to gain something he desired.
At the time of his arrest he was on a suspended sentence for shop thefts.
Mr Klestadt said the offending was significant in terms of the length of time the offences occurred, the amount of money involved and the fact he continued unabated until arrested.
Byrne was sentenced to an 18-month community corrections order and for breaching a suspended sentence had a one-month jail term imposed.
Byrne appealed the jail term and was granted bail to appear in the County Court at a later date.