It has been reported that Mr Peter Swain, an accountant with a lawn mowing contractor, who bribed Gold Coast City Council officers with airfares, cash and hotel accommodation in return for gardening work, has escaped an immediate prison sentence. Mr Swain was sentenced last month to two years in jail, wholly suspended, after he pleaded guilty to 34 charges of giving secret commissions and being an accessory after the fact. The Brisbane District Court was told that Mr Swain was the accountant for SMS Contracting, which won about $2.75 million in work from three council officers between 1998 and 2001. Due to the bribes, Mr Swain’s business was given the larger share of major contracts to maintain city parks and sports fields. The court was told that the deal was to the detriment of other companies who tendered for the work and were supposed to be given an equal share. In return, the three council staff were given about $31,000 in cash, trips and accommodation.

Mr Swain’s lawyer, Ms Sarah Thompson, said Mr Swain’s business partner initiated the scheme. In granting a suspended sentence the judge took into account the time it had taken to bring the matter to court, the fact that Mr Swain’s marriage broke down, and that he had suffered significant health problems.