'Insidious' fake used ASIO ruse for sex

A judge today said the way a man posed as an ASIO agent to get sex from a fellow inmate was "insidious".

County Court Judge Julie Nicholson described Benjamin Lord's impersonations of a high-ranking Federal Police officer and ASIO agent to control his victim as "quite inventive, almost a Hollywood script".

Lord, 31, an unemployed call centre operator from Ashwood, has pleaded guilty to two counts of impersonating a public official with the intention of obtaining sexual services and two counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years' jail.

Lord's victim was 28 when jailed for 15 months in April 2009 for drug offences.

The victim, who cannot be named, was placed in the same prison cell as Lord a month later. Lord was serving a jail term on deception charges.

Lord initially told his victim he was an undercover Federal Police agent who had been put in prison to investigate the victim's female co-accused.

He promised to help the victim get out early on parole and made phone calls from prison claiming to be discussing the victim's case with court officials and the Parole Board.

Lord claimed to even know the victim's sentencing judge.

During their time together in prison before Lord was released in September 2009, Lord conducted a strip and cavity search of his victim.

Prosecutor Michelle Sewell said it was alleged that as a result of Lord's offending, "sexual services were obtained".

When later interviewed by police in September 2010, Lord admitted telling his victim he was a Federal Police officer and later an ASIO agent and "it had all got severely out of hand".

Lord described the victim as naive and gullible.

Defence lawyer Gordon Chisholm told the court today that the case was about deception, not sex.

Mr Chisholm said Lord had not pleaded guilty to any sexual assault charges, only to the impersonation charges.

The fact Lord did obtain sexual services from the victim as a result of the deception was a relevant consideration for the judge when deciding his sentence but not an aggravating factor, the lawyer claimed.

After his release, Lord had visited his victim in prison wearing a shirt with epaulets which he claimed was an ASIO shirt and carried a fake ASIO identity card with his photograph and name on it.

And when the victim got out of prison in July 2010 Lord took him to a Shepparton hotel where he claimed the victim's parole conditions as set down by the High Court included he stay with him at a granny flat in Ashford, spend at least 19 minutes a day on the phone with Lord and write letters to him from Monday to Saturday.

The plea hearing continues this afternoon.

This story 'Insidious' fake used ASIO ruse for sex first appeared on The Age.