Woman guilty for forged signature

AN Emerald mother who wanted to take her daughter to Disneyland but forgot to get a section of the child’s passport application signed forged the signature herself, the Emerald Magistrate’s Court heard last week.

Janine Frances Willis was convicted and fined $1000 for making false or misleading statements in relation to Australian travel document applications after pleading guilty to the charge.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Kevin Ongheen, under instruction from the Department of Public Prosecutions, told the court Ms Willis was charged under 29.1 of the Australian Passport Act 2005 when it was discovered on November 3 last year, she had forged a signature.

The Australian Passport Act 2005 requires a person known, but not related to the applicant, to sign the passport application to verify the person’s identity.

Sgt Ongheen said an Australian passport officer “found a discrepancy” in the application and told Ms Willis, who then left the post office, forged the signature of the guarantor, and lodged the form.

An investigation by the Commonwealth department revealed the guarantor had made a verbal agreement with Ms Willis, but had not signed the lodged form.

Sgt Ongheen cited Federal sentencing legislation outlining terms of imprisonment and severe fines.

Solicitor Roland Pianta submitted character references on behalf of his 42-year-old client and said despite the offence being done “at the last minute”, Ms Willis “had no excuse”.

He said his client was “extremely embarrassed” by the offence, and had co-operated with police.

Magistrate Cameron Press said it was a “serious offence” and a term of imprisonment was likely but he took into account the submissions made before the court before he imposed a two-year good behaviour bond under section 19B of the Australian Passport Act 2005.

The conviction was not recorded.

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