Victorian prosecutors have called for former MP Craig Thomson to be jailed for the misuse of union funds, saying anything less would be inadequate.

Former federal MP Craig Thomson is arrogant in the extreme and must be jailed for spending union funds on prostitutes and personal expenses, prosecutors say.

But Thomson’s lawyers say he should be spared jail as he has a major depressive illness and can never again enter public life because of the case.

Thomson, 49, faces up to five years in jail for misusing $24,538 while national secretary of the Health Services Union and a Labor MP.

He used union-issued credit cards to pay prostitutes more than $5500.

Defence barrister Greg James QC urged Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg not to jail Thomson, saying the offending happened as his marriage was breaking down.

“He sought comfort elsewhere,” Mr James told the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Mr James said Thomson had no prospects of a new career and the media coverage of the case had destroyed his family’s privacy.

Prosecutor Lesley Taylor SC said Thomson must be sent to prison, arguing that anything less would be manifestly inadequate.

“He has uttered not one single word of remorse,” she told the court.

His conduct, which stretched over five years, was “arrogant in the extreme” and contemptuous of union members, Ms Taylor said.

“It was selfish and done for his own gain and his own gratification,” she said.

She said Thomson’s crimes were a betrayal of the entire union movement.

“His corrupt behaviour has damaged the reputation of all of them,” she said.

Thomson sought to falsely blame others for his actions and shielded himself behind parliamentary privilege, Ms Taylor said.

In May 2012 Thomson stood up in the House of Representatives to proclaim his innocence, alleging a conspiracy against him.

The former Dobell MP was last month found guilty of 65 charges of obtaining property by deception and theft, after he spent more than $5500 on escorts and made cash withdrawals worth $6250 between 2002 and 2008.

Thomson has agreed to repay the misused funds.

A former escort known as Misty said Thomson paid her for sex on at least six occasions, giving her champagne and sometimes buying more time so they could chat, according to statements tendered during Thomson’s January hearing.

He once used the alias “Jeff Thomson” to book an escort named Tracie to his Sydney hotel room in 2003.

After a 2005 ALP conference Thomson used union funds to catch a cab to a Sydney brothel called Tiffany’s Girls where he used a union card to pay $418 for sexual services in the “Red Turbo Spa Room”.

Thomson will be sentenced on March 25.