A sham spy who spun “convincing lies” in a “complex and unusual story” that defrauded his victim out of $718,000 has been sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court.
Jeremiah Thomas James Deakin was sentenced to two years and five months’ jail on Monday (16 May), with a non-parole period of 14 months after he pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining property by deception.
ACT Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucy McCallum said the 32-year-old thought his victim took advantage of his vulnerability when he was a teenager, as he had alleged, “that person used to use me as an underage prostitute”.
His future victim was 58 when he met him on an gay dating website and they began a sexual relationship that spanned a number of years.
It was disputed whether Deakin was 15 or 16 at the time they met in 2006 and he turned 16 that February, but the chief justice said it was not possible to come to a firm conclusion on this and it didn’t make a material difference to sentencing.
The victim said after their initial meeting Deakin asked him for money, which he gave him, thinking it was for food, school expenses and rent as he’d moved out of home at age 15.
Deakin gave a very different account of their early relationship, Chief Justice McCallum said, claiming the victim paid him for sexual favours. But he wasn’t paid much, he claimed, ranging from $50 to $100.
Chief Justice McCallum said it was “hardly a traditional kind of romantic relationship” and she accepted the victim had offered payment for sex.
From 2016 to 2018, he convinced his victim he faced criminal charges stemming from a fake Centrelink debt, then both as himself and while pretending to be a fictional Australian Security Intelligence Agency solicitor called “Sarah Bradford”, he requested the older man pay for a variety of things, including Deakin’s living expenses.
The victim thought he had to pay up because Deakin convinced him a legal agreement had been reached for him to do so.
Deakin also told him charges were coming over their sexual relationship, which wasn’t true.
“There were multiple lies and an elaborate narrative used,” Chief Justice McCallum said.
Deakin claimed he was a victim of the older man’s conduct and believed his crimes to be morally justified, alleging he’d been used as a child prostitute.
The victim wrote a statement for the court, in which he said he felt “betrayed” after giving what he claimed were years of “benevolent payments”.
When Deakin was asked what he’d say to his victim, he apologised.
“I’m sorry that I did what I did,” he said.
“I wish I had a better reason than being addicted to drugs and heavy gambling.
“I couldn’t ask for forgiveness. I don’t think that forgiveness is something that can be asked for.”
Chief Justice McCallum said the victim could not recover financially and there was no prospect of Deakin repaying him.
Deakin is eligible to be released on parole in June 2023 while his head sentence expires in September 2024.