Prime Minister Scott Morrison's nephew has appeared at Parramatta Local Court to face fair trading charges based on allegations that he took money from customers but failed to complete work properly.
Mitchell James Cole was charged by NSW Department of Fair Trading with a number of offences alleged to have occurred through his work as a builder.
The 29-year-old is also alleged to have name-dropped his Prime Minister uncle while with his building clients.
Scott Morrison was forced to release a statement distancing himself from Mr Cole.
Fair Trading Charges at Parramatta Local Court
Due to COVID restrictions in Sydney, Mitchell Cole was forced to line up outside Parramatta Local Court. Sheriffs questioned him and others in line about whether they had visited hot spots.
The Prime Minister's nephew was dressed in a white button-down shirt and grey suit pants. When he was allowed into the courtroom his lawyers sought an adjournment for two weeks to give him time to obtain further information from the Department of Fair Trading.
Mr Cole must enter pleas to the 20 charges when he appears in court.
The fair trading charges include multiple sequences of ' do residential building work when unlicensed', 'demand, receive payment for building without insurance', 'contract to do residential building work without licence' and one charge of 'accept payment not supply goods/services in time'.
Mr Cole's first court date was actually two weeks earlier on 11 June 2021 however neither he, nor Parramatta criminal lawyers appeared on his behalf.
A fraud lawyer for the Department of Fair Trading confirmed with Magistrate Peter Feather that Mr Cole had been served a court attendance notice.
If a person does not attend their court date, a warrant for their arrest can be issued. While the court considered this in Mr Cole's case, they ultimately adjourned the matter with a warning to Mr Cole.
"It is likely a warrant will be issued for his arrest on the next occasion, (if he fails to appear again)," His Honour said.
Reporters Question Mitchell Cole
Scott Morrison's nephew was also confronted by reporters while he waited to be let inside the courthouse.
The questions included whether he had name-dropped his Prime Minister uncle while with his building clients. Mr Cole didn't answer verbally but shook his head while his criminal lawyer urged him to remain silent.
Relationship with Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Mitchell James Cole is the nephew of Prime Minister Scott Morrison by marriage through his wife Jenny Morrison. He has been working as a builder throughout Sydney over the past few years.
His building company - Nexo Build - has incurred a number of infractions, with the Department of Fair Trading fining Mr Cole six times.
However, this is the first time criminal fair trading charges have been laid against Mr Cole and his company.
Despite this, in November 2020, a number of Mr Cole's former clients spoke to A Current Affair about Mr Cole. Fay Voyiatsis said the builder had name dropped the Prime Minister to her on a number of occasions.
She also alleged that he had showed her pictures of him with Scott Morrison, which showed them sitting together with family at his home at Kirribilli House.
"He showed us pictures of him and his family, including his uncle Mr Scott Morrison, having Christmas together," she said.
In a statement released to the media in 2020, Mr Morrison said: "Mitchell is my nephew by marriage and as a result occasionally attends family events. However, that is the extent of contact I have with Mitchell. Mitchell, like anyone else, should be held fully accountable for any of his actions...No one should have to go through what you have experienced."
Fair Trading Charges
There is a strong chance that a jail term can be imposed for serious fraud charges if you are found guilty. That is why it is important to obtain advice from one of Australia's best fraud lawyers who has successfully defended hundreds of these charges.
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