Kleenmaid defence lawyer speaks of ‘regret and suffering’

By Claire Reilly

The lawyer representing former Kleenmaid directors Andrew and Bradley Young has spoken of the men’s regret and sadness over the collapse of the company, and the subsequent legal proceedings that began in Maroochydore Magistrates Court yesterday.

While neither Andrew nor Bradley Young would comment on the proceedings, their barrister, John Rivett, spoke exclusively to Current.com.au to discuss the seriousness of the charges and his clients’ response.

“The only comment that I can make is what I was instructed to make, which was that all the directors are deeply regretful as to what happened with this company,” said Rivett. “They tried their hardest to rescue it, at great personal sacrifice in a lot of ways – physically and emotionally and financially.

“They’ve suffered too. They’re both bankrupt and they’re now having to work on wages and commissions to try and keep the food on the table.

“I guess they would admit that maybe the [Kleenmaid business] model wasn’t the best in the circumstances. We all learn from history.”

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Since the company collapsed in 2009, it has taken almost 3 years to reach the point of yesterday’s first hearing in the Magistrates court, and Rivett expects the legal proceedings will take even more time going forward.

“This is a long drawn out process already. It’s already taken three years, less two months, to get to this point. This court process will go on for a long time, so there’s no joy in it for anybody.

“In Queensland you have a conference with the prosecutor to try and narrow down the issues – we have to go through that. Then we have a committal, and we would probably be seeking some sort of limited cross-examination of witnesses at the committal level.

“Then you have the pre-trial hearing at the Magistrates court to try and narrow down issues again, and then the trial. And a lot of that depends on the availability of the court officials. So we mightn’t even get a trial this year."

Rivett said the “monstrous amount of material” ASIC had gathered over the three years since 2009 amounted to some 4,700 electronic exhibits and 1,100 witness statements. While he wouldn’t confirm what the Youngs planned to enter as a plea, he said the men were “devastated” by the charges.

“The charges are very serious,” he said. “They are extremely serious. Particularly the one of fraud with Westpac. And we have to take it very seriously.”

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