Fake engineer produces fake references to get a lighter sentence

TIMOTHY McCORMACK produced four excellent character references to persuade a judge to give him a lighter sentence for faking his engineering credentials to work on Qantas aircraft.

But during his sentencing hearing in the District Court yesterday he sat hunkered down in the dock with his head between his fists, bent so low that only his hair was visible to the bench.

The references were too good to be true, the court heard. The fake engineer had also falsified each of his references.

They included a fictional school counsellor, which had been misspelt "councilor", and an allegedly fictional Senior Sergeant Woodward, who purported to be the president of a fictional Hornsby Junior Australian Rules Football Club.

"There is no football club by that name," said the Crown prosecutor, Paul McGuire. Judge Mark Marien, who described the proceedings as an "extra-ordinary event", said that all the references were formatted in the same way and signed by the same hand. McCormack, 27, pleaded guilty in September to 42 charges relating to the falsification of documents, including his exam results for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's aircraft maintenance engineer licence and his engineering credentials.

He duped Qantas for nine months by posing as a licensed aircraft engineer before he was discovered in July last year. He had performed 30 maintenance checks.

The plane that later gained notoriety for an emergency landing in Bangkok was among the aircraft he checked for maintenance.

His barrister, Sydney Jacobs, asked for a six-week adjournment so it could be determined whether his lying was a psychiatric rather than a behavioural disorder. "What I seek to explore is that there is some pathological condition," Mr Jacobs said.

But Mr McGuire said the falsification of documents could be an attempt to pervert the course of justice, such as in the case of the former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld, who pleaded guilty to the offence over false statements to avoid a speeding fine.

Judge Marien granted a two-week adjournment.

"What has occurred in these sentencing procedures is, in my experience, an extraordinary event," he said.

"The defence are asking for the opportunity of putting to the court some material which may throw some light on how and when it occurred."

The federal Director of Public Prosecutions said the Australian Federal Police might consider whether to press further charges against McCormack.