NOTABLE northern suburbs businessman Martin John Smith has faced serious consequences in Joondalup Magistrates Court after he pleaded guilty to illegally putting a tracking device on his estranged wife’s car.
Smith, co-vice president of the Joondalup Business Association, appeared in Joondalup Magistrates Court this afternoon via video link from Hakea Prison.
He had been held in custody for nearly a month after police detained him on November 23 for breaching a violence restraining order (VRO).
Magistrate Deen Potter sentenced the 53-year-old man, who runs multi-million dollar Neerabup business Orbit Drilling, to seven months in jail suspended for 12 months.
He considered the offending too serious for a fine.
Smith also pleaded guilty to breaching a VRO and illegally using a private investigator to follow and photograph the victim.
His use of a private investigator came under the offence of “the pursuit of another person in a manner reasonably expected to intimidate”.
Mr Potter sentenced him to three months in jail for each of the other matters concurrent with the seven-month suspended sentence.
The court heard Smith hired a private investigator to follow his wife, before hiding a tracking device on her car in Ocean Reef between May and July.
Defence lawyer Gary Massey said Smith’s intention was not to intimidate but to gain information that could be of use in family court proceedings.
“It’s not an excuse, but he didn’t understand he would be breaking the law,” he said.
Mr Potter said Smith should have a strong understanding of the law given his business experience.
“There is something inherently nefarious in attaching a tracking device to someone’s vehicle,” he said.
A significant number of supporters of Smith were at the hearing.
Mr Massey mentioned Smith’s strong standing in the community, including with charity work.
He handed Mr Potter a comprehensive collection of character references, which included one from Perth Glory.
The police prosecutor said there was “never an occasion” where a defence council would present a bad reference.
She said his financial connections allowed him such references, using the Perth Glory one as an example because he had a corporate box at the club.
She said a prison sentence was the most appropriate penalty.
“He’s gone to the extra effort… by installing that GPS,” she said.
The maximum penalty for the illegal use of a tracking device is 15 months in prison.
Smith would be released from Hakea Prison this afternoon.