A drug-trafficking conman who forged a football coaching certificate has been jailed for six and a half years for submitting a fake character reference from a yoghurt company to a judge.

County Court judge Gabriele Cannon said Spiros Zotos, 44, who pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice, had a ‘‘horrendous criminal history’’.

Judge Cannon said Zotos had created, falsely signed and submitted in December last year a character reference from a yoghurt company and another reference from IGA Deer Park ‘‘to present himself in a favourable light’’ when appealing his two-year jail sentence for drug-trafficking.

Zotos and a co-offender had been partners in the Merton Rush Hotel at Morwell and were making plans to refurbish the hotel and provide erotic entertainment but this eventually did not go ahead.

The hotel was running at a loss so Zotos used the back office of the hotel to sell drugs to friends and associates.

Judge Cannon said Zotos’ attempts to deceive the County Court during his appeal by submitting the fake character references was ‘‘a serious matter which warrants a fitting punishment in all of the circumstances’’.

“The most serious aspect of your conduct was your preparedness to provide false documents to the court and to approach others to assist you in conveying such false information,’’ the judge said when jailing Zotos for six and a half years with a non-parole period of four and a half years.

‘‘In particular you were prepared to have your friend … perjure himself in order to help save your skin.

‘‘Also, there was a level of sophistication to the creation of these documents and your commitment to this criminal course was of an enduring nature … Even when interviewed by the police, you maintained the lie.

‘‘Conduct which undermines or threatens the administration of justice is viewed very seriously by the courts.’’

Judge Cannon said Zotos had been introduced to ‘‘a scene involving late nights, gambling and a degree of instability’’ when he went to Brunswick High School in Year 12.

“It was in this context that you commenced to commit dishonesty offences, which essentially became a way of life in the ensuing years.

‘‘While you worked in restaurants along the way, you saw fraud as an easy means to make money, and it appears that you saw the commission of these as something of a challenge or thrill, at least in your younger years. When you were 29 you committed offences which led to your first significant period of incarceration.’’

Zotos was jailed in 2007 for four years and four months after creating sophisticated forgeries purporting to be European and English Football Association coaching licences and a Nottingham Forest Football Club award for coaching services.

As a result, he was given a probationary coaching letter from the Football Federation of Australia, which he used to obtain a Victorian coaching licence, but in the end did not obtain a coaching job.

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