A Leura artist has described as “pathetic” the outcome of a court case which saw no conviction recorded against a high-profile lawyer who stole two of his paintings.
James Willebrant spoke out about the unusual case after he was dismayed at the sentence handed down to Sydney lawyer Michael Gerard Sullivan, 54, in Penrith District Court last Thursday, August 16.
Mr Sullivan had earlier pleaded guilty to stealing the two paintings valued at $14,500 but Judge Jennifer English accepted a diagnosis of dissociative amnesia tendered in his defence in two psychiatric reports.
She said Mr Sullivan had previously lived an exemplary life and placed him on a two year good behaviour bond.
Mr Sullivan had given evidence in an earlier court apperance that he had absolutely no memory of stealing the paintings from the Katoomba Fine Art Gallery in December 2008, despite being captured on CCTV doing exactly that.
“It was a pathetic outcome. The only thing that we really get out of it is the fact he’s been shamed and humiliated [as a result of publicity given to the case],” said Mr Willebrant of last week’s decision.
He said the case had taken a toll in the three-and-a-half years since the original theft.
“It was stressful for me until I got the paintings back and then I felt so much better about it but I just wanted to see some justice being served,” he said.
Katoomba Fine Art Gallery owner Geoff White said he was disappointed with the outcome after the police and Department of Public Prosecutions presented a “very sound case”.
“The system was able to be lenient [on Sullivan] though because of the way it works,” he said.