Singer and actor Paulini Curuenavuli has been given a six-month suspended sentence for bribing a government official to unlawfully obtain a driver’s licence.
Curuenavuli pleaded guilty to the offence in September — 14 months after she paid a Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) customer service worker $850 for an unrestricted NSW licence.
The former Australian Idol contestant and star of The Bodyguard Musical was told by the Magistrate that she must show good behaviour until June 14, 2018.
In sentencing, the magistrate said although Curuenavuli had showed a level of self-rehabilitation, the fact she made the initial contact with the corrupt RMS worker had to be regarded as serious.
Curuenavuli’s barrister, Lisa-Claire Hutchinson, said the singer had obtained her learners permit in early November after her “very rigorous commitment” with the musical The Bodyguard wrapped up in late October.
She has completed 15 driving hours in her log book and a traffic-offender program, Ms Hutchinson said.
Ms Hutchinson said the offence was on the lowest end of the scale and admitted Curuenavuli had a number of traffic infringements on record.
Curuenavuli’s manager provided a written statement saying there had been “significant ramifications” for the singer including loss of work and offers.
Prosecutor Daniel Berea said there was a high level of pre-meditation, planning and forethought by Curuenavuli.
Mr Berea added this came after a string of driving offences for Curuenavuli, and she was looking for “an easy way out”.
The singer held a NSW learner’s permit until March 2016 when it was suspended after she was caught driving unaccompanied and without L plates displayed.
In July 2016, she contacted RMS customer service worker Faletausala Feesili Viafale by text message and was told she could arrange a C class unrestricted licence for $850.
Court documents state Ms Viafale told her to go to the Mount Druitt RMS office and wait at counter 10.
When Ms Viafale served Curuenavuli, she added an American driver’s licence number to Curuenavuli’s records and issued an unrestricted NSW licence.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.