Lighter Side: Man pretends to be High Court Judge and Queen’s mate

by NZ Lawyer31 Oct 2014
A man from Victoria pleaded guilty to six charges of obtaining property by deception after he conned Australian businessmen out of $300,000 by posing as a retired English High Court Judge.

Shane Banks, who was known as the fictional “Shane Straussman” to his victims, managed to convince a number of people that he was a member of a secret board of judges known as the “Queen’s Best 10”, chaired by Justice Michael Kirby, and that he answered directly to Her Majesty the Queen herself, reports Roll On Friday.

But it didn’t stop there. Banks also claimed he had a close relationship with former PM Kevin Rudd, as well as direct access to the former Cabinet Minister, Chris Bowen.

The Age reports that the man’s barrister, Julie Condon, argued that her “lonely” client's offending was "driven by narcissistic personality disorder" in order to feed a gambling habit.

Banks’ most recent spate of offending began when he rang businessman Antonio Murdaca, posing as Straussman, and made a variety of representations, including being assigned by a board of retired judges to investigate the victim’s past legal matters.

Murdaca was told the board had come to the conclusion there was corruption in the way courts had treated these matters.

After a series of meetings, Banks was ultimately allowed access to Murdaca’s office, where he seized the opportunity to speak to everyone who came in to see the businessman.

The court heard this led to six people associated with Murdaca handing Banks a whopping total of $300,000 for help that never eventuated.

A psychiatrist who had assessed Banks, described him as, "living a delusional life in a delusional world".

The court heard that the con-man has been pulling similar stunts since the tender age of 15.

And in an ironic spin-off, it looks like karma has made its way back to bite Banks without the help of the law.

Due to his dealings with Murdaca, he inadvertently became involved with a member of the Chaouk Melbourne crime family through an offer of a loan to him. As a consequence, he is now in protective custody.

"He's looking over his shoulder," his lawyer said.