Perth District Court: Driving instructor took bribes to pass people he’d never tested

A Perth court heard a driving instructor took bribes to pass people he'd never tested.
A Perth court heard a driving instructor took bribes to pass people he'd never tested.

A FORMER WA government driving assessor who corruptly accepted cash to pass people he hadn’t tested has been jailed for two years.

Gregory Briotti, 56, was pocketing an annual salary of more than $100,000 when he took payments to sign off applications for motorcycle and heavy vehicle learner’s permits and driver’s licences in 2014 and 2015.

On one occasion, he forged an applicant’s signature using an example he’d been provided.

After the offending was detected, Briotti was investigated by the Corruption and Crime Commission and lost his job with the Department of Transport, which was then named the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

The father-of-two admitted accepting one $100 payment but initially denied eight other offences.

He told people he’d accepted bribes from to not co-operate with the CCC and if they did, to insist they’d been properly tested and didn’t pay any money.

Prosecutor Sarah Jessup told the District Court of WA that Briotti received about $2000 from the nine offences but would have committed more than that during the five years he worked for the department, so it was not known how much he received in total.

“(Your offending) involved exploitation of the system and a gross abuse of trust,” Ms Jessup said.

Defence counsel John O’Connor said his client started out bending the rules by conducting legitimate tests from his Perth home for boarding school students who were frustrated by lengthy wait times at metropolitan testing centres.

Many offered money to jump the queue, the lawyer said, and Briotti “gave in” after receiving constant calls from applicants.

He eventually stopped bothering to do assessments and continued offending because people he believed were bikie gang members wanted his services and he feared they would harm him if he declined.

“It certainly didn’t start the way it ended,” Mr O’Connor said.

He said Briotti initially attempted to thwart the CCC investigation because he feared friends in the Wheatbelt town of Koorda – where he had previously lived and was well-respected as a shire councillor, sports coach, firefighter and member of the school committee – would abandon him.

Many had, so he had already been punished on a social and emotional level, Mr O’Connor said.

Judge Belinda Lonsdale said Briotti’s offending was persistent and he had put the public at risk by not checking the driving competency of applicants.

Briotti previously told the CCC he had received about $50,000 from the offending.

The court heard the department spent more than $200,000 investigating his activities.