On 18 December 2008, Mr Keith Dobie pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking in persons (s 271.2(2B) of Criminal Code), one count of dealing in the proceeds of crime (s400.6(1) of Criminal Code) and four counts of presenting a false document to immigration officials (s234(1)(a) of Migration Act).
At trial it was submitted that Mr Dobie was in dire financial circumstances when he recruited and arranged for two Thai women to travel to Australia for the purposes of working as sex workers. Mr Dobie deceptively recruited the women by making false promises of ready money and good working conditions when he in fact intended to make as much money out of the women as possible to pay off his ever increasing debts. Mr Dobie pressured the women into working as much as possible and did not allow them to choose the clients they would service, contrary to previous statements he made prior to their arrival in Australia.
When initially charged on all counts, Mr Dobie pleaded not guilty to the two counts of trafficking in persons. However, following the empanelling of a jury, Dobie’s counsel changed his plea to guilty. Mr Dobie later made an application to set aside the pleas of guilty however, on the day of sentencing, this application was dismissed by consent and the sentencing judge subsequently believed it to have been abandoned.
On 23 December 2008, Mr Dobie was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment with a non-parole period of one year and ten months.
Following sentencing, Mr Dobie made an application for leave to appeal his sentence and an application for extension of time within which to appeal against the conviction. Mr Dobie argued that he pleaded guilty without a full appreciation of the elements of the offences because he was pressured and threatened and also that the prosecution had failed to prove the offences because the element of deception was unable to be established.
In December 2009, the Queensland Court of Appeal refused to grant leave to appeal against sentence, granted the application for extension of time within which to appeal against conviction however dismissed the appeal against conviction.