A former principal at Australia’s top indigenous school accused of a multimillion-dollar fraud to keep the college running has been denied bail in Cairns.
A former Senior Australian of the Year charged over an alleged multimillion-dollar fraud at Australia’s top indigenous school has again been denied bail.
Jean Illingworth, the former principal of Djarragun College near Cairns, is accused of inflating student numbers to obtain up to $9 million in extra taxpayer funding for the school.
The 66-year-old was released on bail after being charged early last year but was taken into custody in July after allegedly contacting witnesses in the trial, breaching her bail conditions.
On Monday, her application for bail in the Cairns Supreme Court was refused.
Justice Jim Henry said it was unusual for someone facing fraud charges to be in custody but he refused bail as her lawyer couldn’t show cause as to why she should be released.
However, he said the fact Illingworth had limited access to a computer and her lawyers while being held in a Townsville prison was “troubling” given the complexity of the case.
Evidence that the prison had refused to grant her greater access may have helped her bail application, Justice Henry said.
Illingworth can again apply for bail but must give the court two days notice.
Her lawyer Ken Fleming argued his client should be granted bail as she suffered depression and anxiety, had learnt her lesson and wouldn’t attempt to contact witnesses.
He also said it was difficult for Illingworth to prepare a defence as visiting hours at the prison was limited and access to a computer restricted.
“She’s ill, she’s not going to be a threat or risk, she recognises what she’s done is stupid and she won’t do it again,” he said.
However, Crown Prosecutor Michael Cowan said Illingworth shouldn’t be released as there was a risk she would again try to contact witnesses.
Mr Cowan said her behaviour wasn’t a silly mistake but “repeated and cynical conduct”.
It is alleged Illingworth enrolled children who never attended classes to gain extra funding to keep the school running.
Illingworth, who worked at the college for about a decade, was named the Queensland Senior Australian of the Year in 2009 for her work in transforming the once-dysfunctional college into a much admired model of success.
Her trial is expected to take place next year in the Cairns District Court.