Two men involved in a $46,000 traffic fines racket have avoided conviction after a judge decided they deserved a second chance.
Braedon Archibald, 24, and Scott McMahon, 30, both of North Coburg, were involved in cheating the system of more than $46,000 in traffic fines over four years to December 2010.
They arranged to have false documents in fictitious names sent into the Traffic Camera Office declaring they were the drivers who had been speeding, not the original drivers.
The racket resulted in the fines imposed on the original drivers being withdrawn.
Archibald and McMahon were arrested as part of Victoria Police's Nordic Taskforce investigations into people trying to avoid paying speeding fines between 2008 and 2010.
Court documents listed attempts to defraud Civic Compliance Victoria of fines ranging from $142 to $438.
County Court judge Frank Gucciardo said the racket also helped the drivers originally caught speeding to not lose any demerit points.
Judge Gucciardo said the fictional identities were used on 157 occasions and had helped Archibald, his mother and others to avoid fines.
The racket involved sustained cheating and dishonesty that had the potential to undermine the traffic-fine system and endanger the revenue received by the state from traffic offences, the judge said.
The deception had helped poor drivers to escape detection, potentially threatening the safety of other motorists on the roads.
Judge Gucciardo said he had decided not to jail the men over the racket, which he described as not having a high level of sophistication, because of their early guilty pleas and good prospects of rehabilitation.
Archibald and McMahon, who pleaded guilty to fraud and drugs charges, were placed on 12-month community corrections orders and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service work.
"This is about the best chance anybody's given you in your life," the judge told the two men.
"I suggest if you have half a brain in your head, you'll take advantage of it."
Archibald had also been involved in drug-related activities and was found with pre-cursor materials used to manufacture amphetamines.
He had set up a clandestine laboratory to make the drugs, with information on how to manufacture crystal methamphetamine found on his laptop computer.
Archibald was also found in possession of testosterone, valium, an extendable baton, taser and knife.
McMahon was caught with a large number of fraudulent documents in his bedroom, including fake driver's licences and account statements. He had also been involved in setting up a clan lab to manufacture methamphetamines.