Suspended sentences to go; politicians do Hun’s bidding

There are plenty of problems in our legal system, but judges and magistrates being “soft on crime” is not one of them.

But if people can be convinced to believe that it is, then both old parties are happy to bend in the wind. The conservatives will be first to sink in the populist boot – and Labor won’t be far behind.

Then:

Premier John Brumby criticised the Coalition and defended the status quo, saying: ”When you look at suspended sentences, it’s always been our view that it’s appropriate that there’s judicial discretion … It’s not the politicians that should be making the decisions about these things, it’s judges who are best placed to make those decisions.”

Now:

THE Brumby government, in a major policy reversal ahead of the state election, is set to abolish suspended sentences for serious crimes in Victoria.

Adopting a stance almost identical to the Coalition’s, the government will announce today it has accepted the findings of a report stating that attempts to slash the number of suspended sentences have failed.

“Very well, if that is the way the winds are blowing, let no one say I don’t also blow.”

And look on what the Sentencing Advisory Council based its assessment of the problems:

In 2006, after the council found suspended sentences were not in line with community values, the government changed the law to restrict suspended terms for serious offences to cases involving ”exceptional circumstances”.

“Community values”? Define “community values” – what the Herald Sun, through a relentless campaign of exaggeration and misinformation, eventually convinces its readers to believe?

The Sentencing Advisory Council should be well aware of the disconnect between what the community actually believes when fully informed, and what it’s told to believe by News Ltd – the Council has done tests. It should do more.

And those of us who think that judges and magistrates who hear the evidence are the best people to determine a just result in any particular case, and not parliaments guessing years in advance, will just have to vote for someone else.

UPDATE 18/5: John Campion SC gives some examples of the sort of injustices we’re likely to see more of:

Take the case of an aged offender who, having spent a completely law-abiding life, commits the mercy killing of a cherished and terminally ill lifetime partner. Depending on all the known circumstances, the community may not necessarily expect such a person to serve a term of imprisonment. On the other hand, would an appropriate outcome be to impose an intensive correction order or community-based order on such an offender? The community needs to consider the possibility that such an outcome could occur if suspended sentences are abolished. Might a merciful and tolerant community, while fully recognising the sanctity of human life, accept that a sentence of imprisonment totally suspended may meet the circumstances of such cases?

Or take the case of a relatively young offender who, in the context of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, commits the serious offence of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16. Sometimes in such cases the age disparities are not so great between the two people involved. It is not difficult to believe that some of these types of cases may involve offenders with good records, excellent prospects of rehabilitation, and perhaps having the context of an enduring relationship between the two people involved. In cases such as these, is it possible that the community may not be affronted by the imposition of a fully suspended sentence?

I don’t think the mob has thought this through.

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77 responses to “Suspended sentences to go; politicians do Hun’s bidding

  1. A question for you Jeremy: Just how often are the suspension of a jail sentence revoked?

  2. Regularly, but if you want the figures go and look it up yourself.

  3. Splatterbottom

    This is just another chapter in the culture wars. The government is answerable to the people every few years. In between, and especially when making judicial appointments, the government is involved in an exercise of class reproduction. Historically the elite classes have stacked the judiciary with their own repulsive kind. Not surprisingly the court decisions reflect their mores, and are out of touch with the rest of society. Vicious moral cretins become victims of society, and victims of crime become fodder for sharp-tongued cross-examiners.

    After years of obscene earnings at the bar, and judicious use of their tongues on political orifices, elevation to the bench enables these most repugnant members of society to pass free the worst elements of society, knowing that they will be largely confined to the poorer suburbs, where no self-respecting judge would live. Not for them the blighted lives of the ordinary folk made worse by the dregs set free to maraud among them.

    The real difference is that those who have made hard decisions to live decently and struggle for a better life understand that violent crime is a moral choice of an individual, not something for which society is collectively guilty. This does not occur to those who live privileged lives where extravagant material rewards far outstrip the sacrifices required to obtain them.

  4. “Not surprisingly the court decisions reflect their mores, and are out of touch with the rest of society.”

    Spoken like a Herald Sun reader. How would you go about proving this claim?

    “The real difference is that those who have made hard decisions to live decently and struggle for a better life understand that violent crime is a moral choice of an individual, not something for which society is collectively guilty. This does not occur to those who live privileged lives where extravagant material rewards far outstrip the sacrifices required to obtain them.”

    Some basic studies in criminology would disabuse you of these stupid notions you have. If you don’t know what you are talking about, best keep quiet.

  5. Splatterbottom

    Buns, If you want to understand what is wrong with academia, criminology is a very good place to start. Criminology is a subspecies of the victim studies movement where the real victims are ignored, and their criminal oppressors are made out to be the real victims.

    In the social sciences success is achieved by inverting facts, logic and truth. The basic premise of the social sciences is that if your studies do not denigrate and undermine society they are worthless. Thus criminology has a major place in this pantheon of perverse ideas.

    In fact it is criminology itself that causes much crime, agitating for violent offenders to be set free, and letting them know that they are not blame. You will hear loud clamouring from criminologists advocating massive social change and very few calls for the restoration of civic virtue.

    Being from NSW, I am not familiar with the Herald Sun, but I gather from comments here that it is satanic organ not given to the mental gymnastics necessary for membership of the chattering class.

  6. Criminology is the study of the causes of crime. Not having any legal personage, it is not able to agitate for anything.

    “You will hear loud clamouring from criminologists advocating massive social change and very few calls for the restoration of civic virtue.”

    Really? I have the complete opposite experience. I hear very few clamourings from criminologists, loud or otherwise, and virtually endless calls for the restoration of civic virtue in the tabloid press. I think there’s a section of our community that actually believes that if the courts got tougher on crime, there would be much less of it.

    I am still interested in the source of your claim that sentences in court do not reflect social mores. The first article Jeremy linked to suggests that, if anything, court decisions are harsher than those which the public would impose. What have you got to contradict that?

  7. “In the social sciences success is achieved by inverting facts, logic and truth. The basic premise of the social sciences is that if your studies do not denigrate and undermine society they are worthless.”

    That sounds like bullshit to me. I suppose economists ignore studies which don’t lead to poverty and ruin, psychologists write papers to cause mental illness, and physicists are out to destroy the universe altogether.

  8. “Splatterbottom // 17 May, 2010 at 12:21 pm”

    Well said! There was a time when I could leave my car in the drive with the keys in it, I could sleep on the front lawn of my home on a hot summers night with only the fear, I may, just may, be attacked by a blood seeking mosquito.

    I could slap the kisser of some juvenile miscreant who has just insulted my wife, with out the fear of being categorized as Alphonse Capone, and have my life torn asunder by a judicial system that would not have me financially ruined, for defending my right to live a normal decent law abiding life, and defend my families honor.

    But of course this was all in circa 1960, but hey WTF now they are blaming me for the housing crisis, and probably the bubonic plague as well..

    Strange times we live in.

  9. “Well said! There was a time when I could leave my car in the drive with the keys in it, I could sleep on the front lawn of my home on a hot summers night with only the fear, I may, just may, be attacked by a blood seeking mosquito.”

    When you were young?

    Funny, in the 1960s I bet the middle aged people were complaining about how they used to be able to do those things in the 1930s, before crime got out of control.

  10. Splatterbottom

    Buns: Not having any legal personage, it is not able to agitate for anything.

    You are confusing concepts here, legal personality is not relevant.

    The issue is whether my usage was apt to convey its intended meaning. The word ‘agitating’ may be applied in the case of an agenda driven academic discipline carried on by a group of people. My meaning was clear. Pedantry is no substitute for reasoned argument.

    Further, as to sentencing, Jeremy always trots that link out. The point I was making is that the discipline of criminology has been captured by a faction unlikely to publish anything contrary to that view.

    Here is an interesting study which found that the participants’ “recommended sentence lengths were significantly longer than those currently utilised within the Queensland legal system”

  11. Did you read the JCU study to which you linked, SB? Did you have a look at the questionnaire on which its findings were based?

    First, respondents were just asked in the abstract what they thought sentences should be for various crimes.

    Then they were given crime scenarios – but with very limited information. And nothing put in mitigation, which immediately puts them in a different – and less informed – position than a judge or magistrate. You may say “why is that relevant?” but you’d have to concede that it might affect their decision on what is just – just as it affects magistrates and judges.

    The SAC study was far more revealing – it’s just a tragedy they haven’t done more of them. They should.

  12. “Jeremy // 17 May, 2010 at 3:53 pm”

    My age in 1960 was fifteen but what that has to do with it escapes me.

    Your second paragraph is true, and your point is?

    What the perceptions were and the reality was, are two different questions.When I was a teenager there was obviously crime, added to this was the turmoil of the working class making their way out of the years of poverty and neglect of the conservative establishment. With the added drama of the Vietnam conflict. and the censorship and extreme bias by the fourth estate, which incidentally is of late, having a repeat of the Whitlam years.Even with all of this trauma you could still as I said leave your car in the drive way with the keys in it.

    Is all I am saying is, crime is worse now, and we as citizens cannot get retribution for scum bags through the courts.To say that the whole of citizenry does not share the belief that we treat criminals like royalty is not only disingenuous it is blatantly false.

  13. lynot if you want to go around belting children then one day one of their parents will put you in hospital. Then you will whinge about being violently assaulted when the real tragedy is your treatment will be subsidised by my taxes.

    (Tho the truth is (possibly) back then you were around 15 and insulted someone’s wife and they belted you and you never did it again.)

  14. “To say that the whole of citizenry does not share the belief that we treat criminals like royalty is not only disingenuous it is blatantly false.”

    Actually, it can’t possibly be true unless at the very least neither Jeremy nor I are part of the “citizenry”.

    SB, there is no agenda to criminology. Prove otherwise, or withdraw your claim.

    I understand why criminology is anathema to the tough-on-crime crowd – it is because they do not want the facts to mess with their belief that tougher penalties reduce crime.

    “The point I was making is that the discipline of criminology has been captured by a faction unlikely to publish anything contrary to that view. ”

    Where are you getting this stuff? You’ve just made this up.

  15. Splatterbottom

    I’m just telling it like I see it, buns. I’m entitled to my views, and you are not entitled to shut me up, although that reaction is common enough among the neo-fascist left.

  16. usesomesanity

    Nanny state, nuff said.

  17. “jules // 17 May, 2010 at 5:29 pm”

    Splaterbottom has said it for me in his reply to buns, but you keep living in your fantasy world.

    What ever rocks ya boat.

    Oh and buns err never mind buns I’m sure you know what I’m thinking.

  18. When did I tell you to shut up? Nice strawman. Say what you like. But when you make assertions of fact that I do not believe are true, expect me to ask you to substantiate them. And when you can’t do so, I will accuse you of making shit up.

  19. Did I tell you to shut up or anything else?

    I just commented on your stated desire to belt other people’s kids.

    “I could slap the kisser of some juvenile miscreant who has just insulted my wife, with out the fear of being categorized as Alphonse Capone, and have my life torn asunder by a judicial system that would not have me financially ruined, for defending my right to live a normal decent law abiding life, and defend my families honor.”

    Your words mate.

    You could belt some kid back then and still live your normal law abiding life.

    Tell me, are you still beating your wife?

  20. I wasn’t talking to you.

  21. Just 15 posts before SB played the Nazi card.

  22. SB, did you miss my response to your link?

  23. Splatterbottom

    Broggly, I had a reply to an earlier post of yours which didn’t make it through moderation. Also the real straw man in the room is your extrapolation of ‘neo-fascist’ to ‘Nazi’.

    And buns, demanding someone withdraw their comment is equivalent to telling them to shut up.

    Jeremy, I saw your comment. The reference I posted was to a study that used a different methodology, which you say undermines its conclusions. That may well be the case. I referred to the article because buns insists on asking me to reference stuff so that I spend all day at its beck and call, doing research which it can well do itself.

    I have a view about criminology as a discipline, buns has a different view, but unless I go survey the literature again, I am, according to buns required to withdraw my comment. It is an interesting tactic from a juvenile narcissist, and entirely hypocritical given his complete lack of citations in his comments. Buns needs to have a good look in the mirror if it can stand the monstrous sight that awaits.

    The paper I linked to was a PhD thesis and may well have been flawed, but it appears to have passed muster, as it would have been peer reviewed.

  24. No, SB. It isn’t the same at all. Substantiate your assertion or admit that you can’t – not too much for ask for in relation to any contentious factual assertion in debate, surely? And neither option involves shutting up.

    And I see you have resorted to personal abuse and calling me “it”. Classy stuff. Why would I do research to see whether the things you are saying are true or not? That’s your job, unless you don’t want people to take you seriously.

  25. Splatterbottom

    Buns, you are too funny, and soooo bossy. Exactly what sort of proof do you require? I have my view, based on my own experience. I am not changing or withdrawing it, certainly not in the absence of some compelling argument, which obviously I am not going to get from you.

    Calling you ‘it’ isn’t personal abuse, it’s just that I don’t know your gender, and thus used a gender-neutral pronoun. You are as thin-skinned as you are silly.

  26. Yeah, you’re much smarter, if you say so yourself. Whatever.

  27. No more personal abuse. Stick to the issue.

  28. ‘jules // 17 May, 2010 at 10:09 pm’

    No jules I don’t beat my wife she beats me, and what sheer ecstasy it is too.

    You trendy lefties really do, just like the equivalent right wing brains trusts that get on these ere blogs, think you know everything don’t you?

    There’s just no room for a contradictory opinion in your postman person, person hole cover, black and white world. We humans are not born with emotions and innate feelings of revenge, justice, prejudice, and a myriad of other feelings that make up who we are, and how we react to any given situation.

    No we are supposed to all agree with the way you,and the lawyers and judges who apparently know more about the world than we mere mortals.Well here’s a hot flash for you, it ain’t like that, the people, that’s of course us normal people who can tell the difference between shit and clay,have had enough of the pseudo psychology of navel gazers..

    Of course we could put it to a poll the question could be “Are judges out of touch with main stream opinion on crime and punishment” Of course you will win won’t you?

    Yep sure you will.

  29. I think you entirely missed the point of the post, lynot.

    I don’t doubt we’d lose such a poll. But, as the SAC study shows, that’s because of misinformation. When they hear the evidence in actual cases, members of the public are less punitive than the judiciary.

    You might consider that your view on this has been warped by the relentlessly one-sided News Ltd coverage of crime.

  30. Jeremy // 18 May, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Jeremy with all due respect I haven’t missed the point of the post.

    If I took any notice of the media, outside of the reporting of the weather, the local races, and my star sign.I would no doubt think global warming was a load of garbage, women would get maternity leave over Abbott’s dead body, Peter Costello is a nice bloke, and the world is still flat.

    I can, even with my limited education, actually work out when I hear the mitigating factors of a case, why some deranged scum bag hit some poor unsuspecting bastard in the head with an Axe.I can even see a possible reason why some bastard may want to put a baby in a microwave oven or clothes dryer.

    So what!I do not believe that society as a whole wants s to give some bastard a light prison term, for killing some poor sod.

    Society wants them put into prison for their natural, and the quicker judges are elected by the public the better.

  31. I’d put good money that you haven’t a single example of the courts “giving some bastard a light prison term for killing some poor sod”, let alone enough to demonstrate that it’s some kind of epidemic.

    And… elected judges? Like in the US? Way to ensure that more innocent people will be locked up or worse.

  32. lynot thats a great answer to a shit question.

    I hope you enjoy it.

    “We humans are not born with emotions and innate feelings of revenge, justice, prejudice, and a myriad of other feelings that make up who we are, and how we react to any given situation.”

    I think we are, (well I can only speak for myself.) Thats the whole point. You don’t want me making my own “justice” cos it will be brutal revenge.

    I actually know my dark side, and what its capable of – thats why I keep it under control.

    Truth is I don’t have much time for your comment cos its gutless. You want to belt some smartarse kid – if that kids too small to hit you back he’ll do something else.

    Steal a car and set it on fire.

    Smash a phone booth up.

    Roll the next rich prick he sees so they don’t have a chance to hit him.

    Actually turn up at school the next day just to beat the crap out some nerdy little mum’s boy he doesn’tlike, cos his dad looks a bit like you.

    If he’s big enough or angry enough to hit you back he’ll probably kick your arse, then you’ll call the cops or something. And we’ll hear about how violent and evil our youth are.

    Of course odds are since before he was 10 he’s copped worse floggings than you ever will, so if you do hit him, it mightn’t actually teach him anything. And thats not my “lefty black and white worldview” either. Thats reality.

    If you think violence works as a deterrent or punishment, especially from strangers I’ll tell you now you are wrong. Especially if you’ve had it inflicted on you frequently when you are young for no good reason, cept an outlet for someone’s rage.

    And if you think people have no idea about how you feel .. oh well thats a pity.

    Cos then in that situation with our hypothetical juvenile miscreant odds are said young man isn’t gonna learn his lesson from a slap, or even several hard punches to the head and kidneys.

    So whats the next step?

    Leave him (and his mates) up the bush with badly broken ankles, and a warning that next time they won’t be coming back??

    Cos thats what it will take.

    Either you abide by the law in which case you don’t resort to this sort of stuff,. You don’t even take the first step – like indulging your desire to assault a child for a smart arse comment.

    Or you make your own rules and live like a thug.

    And you’ll probably find that if your young miscreant friends cause enough trouble and are old enough (ie over 18) you might be able to drive into town with a mate or two, put them into hospital for a day or two and the local cops won’t even care.

    But really is that we want from our system?

    “No we are supposed to all agree with the way you,and the lawyers and judges who apparently know more about the world than we mere mortals.”

    Judges and lawyers know more about the law, and how and why it works than you (or me).

    Are you gonna wire your own house cause its wrong that electricians know more about the world than we mere mortals?

    What about the pipes to your bog?

    You gonna do them yourself cos plumbers think they know so much more than us mere mortals?

  33. “jules // 18 May, 2010 at 10:42 pm”

    Strewth so many paragraphs of nothing where does one start?What lawyers and judges know about the law, has absolutely nothing to do with what one believes is a just outcome for a particular crime.

    My God!We now have plumbers and electricians in the mix,now let me see, they probably have an opinion on law and order as well.But wait they’re not qualified to have an opinion, only lawyers, judges, and you Jules have that honor don’t you?

    Maybe I should stop going to the footy, after all I have an opinion on who I think are great players but have never played the game myself..

    Jules take a pill or take one for me, I ‘m getting a headache reading your twaddle.

    Jeremy I can give you a hundred examples of some bastard getting a light sentence for killing some poor sod,But lets start with just one, as requested, a real show stopper.

    Clifford Cecil Bartholomew South Australia 1971 murdered 10 people, he served a total of eight years.Nothing more needs to be said really.But hey you can give me some possible mitigating factors if you like.

    Your assertion that the U.S. system in Australia will get more innocent people locked up is risible.We probably have just as many cases per capita of innocent people being locked up here.

  34. “Clifford Cecil Bartholomew South Australia 1971 murdered 10 people, he served a total of eight years.Nothing more needs to be said really.”

    A link would be good. That sentence does not sound like any murder sentence I’ve ever seen. Either you’re completely wrong, or there’s something fundamental that you’re not telling us about that case. (Possibly because you never bothered to find out.)

    And I note you had to go back ALMOST FORTY YEARS for your example.

    “We probably have just as many cases per capita of innocent people being locked up here.”

    No, because our judges don’t get better job security for favouring one side over the other.

  35. Googling Cecil Bartholomew – he was convicted of killing ONE of the ten, not all ten, sentenced to death, then commuted to life. The papers say he was released after 8 years, but don’t say why. Was the conviction overturned for some reason? Why was he paroled?

    You can’t just throw that out there as an example of courts being “soft” without us knowing what the facts were they were considering.

  36. Gee lynot, not only can’t you read, you can’t comprehend.

    I’m not gonna explain that if you can’t follow it I’m sure everyone else can see my point?

    The main point is you are saying that you want a return to the days when law and order was stricter tho wasn’t it? 8 years for a murder in the 70s kind of undermines your point about the legal system being better a generation or two ago.

    Also you want to be able to assault kids and get away with it.

    How that fits with you wanting a harsher law and order policy doesn’t add up.

    Oh yes it does. You just want to get away with what you want and have everyone else subject to the law.

    I can still leave my keys in the car, sleep in the yard and leave my house unlocked when I go out. (Not that there’s anything to steal, even this computer is old and worthless.)

    And I have no desire to belt someone else’s kids.

    Unlike you.

    I have also been in the situation you mentioned – some young prick insulted my wife. Then when I got up him about it, him and his mates tried to king hit me and smash up my car. Well they did king hit me actually just didn’t do much of a job of it. And while I was chasing them down the street (on foot without a 2 x 4) one of them smashed the lights on my car.

    I didn’t go to the cops (cos I’d rather sort it out myself,) and in the end I didn’t even bash the little turd or his mates up. I did catch him on his own and warn him what would happen if he did it again a few days later, and I have never had a problem with him since.

    I never laid a finger on him tho.

    BTW You can have whatever opinion you like about the courts and law and order. You’re entitled to it.

    But you are wrong, and from what you have said you have no credibility making any call on whats an appropriate punishment.

    You want the law to apply harshly to other people but expect to be exempt from it when you want to …

    (Here we go again)

    … belt someone else’s kid.

  37. “Maybe I should stop going to the footy, after all I have an opinion on who I think are great players but have never played the game myself..”

    Poor analogy. Going to the footy with an opinion about who should and shouldn’t be in the team isn’t the same as demanding a say in the selection process.

  38. “Jeremy // 19 May, 2010 at 8:14 ”

    Jesus wept give me a break! I gave you an example and you still back peddle at the speed of light.You cannot justify your position on this blog on this particular case, you would make your self look a laughing stock.

    Bartholomew did nine months for every murder , that is a fact and because it was in the seventies is irrelevant.You said I couldn’t give you an example, and when I do you still make an attempt to ‘waffle’ a load of twaddle to prop up your position, you are un-believable.

    You ask me if he was paroled.Are you serious ?Your taking the piss right?Of course he was paroled that is my point.

    The serial killer from W.A. Edgar Cooke was hung being charged with only one murder that was also a long time ago too, the principle still remains the same.

    Jules haven’t you taken that pill yet?

  39. buns3000 // 19 May, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Go away please buns.

  40. “Bartholomew did nine months for every murder , that is a fact “

    No, it isn’t. He was found guilty of ONE murder. On what basis do you declare he committed the other nine? If he did, why wasn’t he convicted of them?

    “because it was in the seventies is irrelevant.”

    You’re damning the legal system today. The fact that your one example is forty years old is fairly revealing.

    “You ask me if he was paroled.Are you serious ?Your taking the piss right?Of course he was paroled that is my point.”

    Was he? Maybe the conviction was overturned because it was wrong. You still haven’t given me a reliable source as to what happened. Being paroled after eight years for a murder would be unbelievably unusual. Why was he? You think I should just take your word for it when you can’t answer even the most basic questions about the case?

  41. “Go away please buns.”

    Get over yourself. Do you have a superior right to me to be here?

  42. Jeremy // 19 May, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    The Bartholomew case is the stuff of legend, he was paroled, and it had the people of Adelaide in shock horror.At the time he was let out in the middle of the night to avoid the packed media scrum that was gathering at the jail.I could care less what you say, or whose word you take, what you are no doubt doing, is trying to find some site that you think will give your argument substance, instead of insults and more twaddle. You are wasting your time.The facts are as stated dig a bit deeper.

    I have given you an example, and your snide comment about the time frame of the said case, reveals more about you, than it does me.

    O/K let us work on the premise I am correct.You still cannot justify the fact that this particular criminal was let off with a light sentence.There are no mitigating circumstances here,and if not for a one Premier Don Dunstan this man may have indeed been hung.

  43. buns3000 // 19 May, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Buns I never said I did, but I don’t have to reply to your particular inane comments.

  44. Its not that you don’t have to reply to someone else’s inane comments.

    Its that your cognitive skills are already past their limit making up your own.

  45. jules // 19 May, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Au contraire jules it is you that has the cognitive dissonance problem..Along side you I could pass myself off as Mickey Spillane.

    But keep throwing the insults, it amuses me.I know your argument has run its course.

  46. “The Bartholomew case is the stuff of legend”

    And yet you can cite none of the specifics.

    “he was paroled, and it had the people of Adelaide in shock horror.”

    Well, I don’t doubt that. Seems very likely the tabloid media had a field day misrepresenting the facts just like it does today.

    And yet you have no idea why he was paroled, what the reasoning of the parole board was.

    “I have given you an example, and your snide comment about the time frame of the said case, reveals more about you, than it does me.”

    You’re using a vaguely remembered case from Adelaide from 40 years ago to indict the criminal courts in Australia today. That’s pretty ridiculous.

    “O/K let us work on the premise I am correct.You still cannot justify the fact that this particular criminal was let off with a light sentence.”

    Because I wasn’t there and haven’t heard any evidence or any facts about it. And, apparently, neither have you.

  47. lynot, telling me to go away certainly implies you think you have a superior right to be here. I agree that you don’t have to reply to my comments.

    If you find it so intolerable that people might politely disagree with you here, perhaps you are the one who should go away. Either that, or seek help regarding your anger management problem.

  48. buns3000 // 19 May, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Anger management I love it. You really do have a problem with an contrary point of view don’t you?Like S.B. I call it like I see it, and I have been around long enough to know people are fed up with crims being treated like royalty.

    To deny there is not a genuine concern in the community that judges are out of step with main stream society is delusional.

  49. “I know your argument has run its course.”

    What argument. I’m calling you a joke and a jerk for wanting tougher sentencing for crimes and the right to belt any kid that shits you as well.

    You are unable to answer that (and fair enough too, no one with any self respect would.)

    You are right about one thing tho, compared to me you are Mickey Spillane. Your ideas are inconsistent and thin and you can’t write for shit.

    Ayn Rand liked him didn’t she?

    Must be the similarities.

  50. “You really do have a problem with an contrary point of view don’t you?”

    No, that’s you, mate. I simply disagreed with you and you told me to go away, remember?

  51. usesomesanity

    There is no fool like an old fool.

  52. Ok, so is 12 years for stabbing someone half your size 4 times in the back and leaving them to bleed to death your idea of justice being done Jeremy ?

    Perhaps someone here could explain to all of us how this guy, with a known history of inflicting physical abuse on his eventual murder victim can get away with a claim of Defensive Homicide for this murder.

    Keep in mind also he is likely to be released in 6 years.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/and-he-said-it-was-self-defence/story-e6frf7kx-1225852491040

    Yeah, our justice system is really looking after victims.

  53. I agree that what you’ve described doesn’t sound like “defensive homicide” to me. It sounds like murder, which is life imprisonment (as opposed to 20 years).

    Nonetheless, that’s what the jury – the ordinary members of the public – found on hearing the evidence. They found he acted in self-defence. There are two possibilities:

    1. the twelve ordinary men and women of the jury were insane idiots who heard what the Hun says happened and decided that was “self defence”; or
    2. there was much more to the incident than the Hun reported.

    For example, the allegation that she came at him with a raised knife, which the jury did not appear to reject.

    The judge sentenced him to 12 years (minimum 8, not 6 – you’re disingenuously pretending that the two years he’s already served shouldn’t count) when the maximum is 20 – so it was towards the more serious end of that particular type of offending, but there are worse examples of it.

    The judgment is here.

    Given the facts, it seems like your real problem is with what the jury decided, not with the judge’s sentence. And since you didn’t hear the evidence the jury did, I’m not sure how you can suggest you know better about it than they did.

  54. Hello Jeremy,

    I got the 6 year release figure from this article — apologies for not linking it:

    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/mother-of-stabbing-victim-calls-for-overhaul-of-defensive-homicide-laws-20100519-vdmc.html

    “Justice Byrne, who described the pair’s relationship as “tempestuous [and] violent” jailed Middendorp for 12 years, with a non-parole period of eight years. With time already served, Middendorp could be released in almost six years.”

    “Nonetheless, that’s what the jury – the ordinary members of the public – found on hearing the evidence. They found he acted in self-defence. There are two possibilities:

    1. the twelve ordinary men and women of the jury were insane idiots who heard what the Hun says happened and decided that was “self defence”; or

    2. there was much more to the incident than the Hun reported.’

    Actually there’s a third, more likely possibility — the jury fell for the bullshit story put to them by the defense counsel.

    Reading through the judgement, the judge states “It appears that the jury accepted or, perhaps, were not prepared to reject your evidence,” — I guess that’s the advantage the accused has when the only other eye-witness to the crime is dead.

    There are numerous references to the abuse this bloke inflicted on his victim over a long period of time throughout that judgement, there’s also mention of his presence at the house being in breach of earlier bail conditions.

    And this, also from the judgement:

    “She came to the door and sought to enter, notwithstanding that you asked her to go away. You had a knife with you and you chased away the man who was with her. A witness recalls that before she entered the house, you threatened to stab her.”

    Why did he answer the door to his supposed girlfriend , at a house in which he wasn’t supposed to be, with a knife in his hand ?

    Frankly I reckon he should’ve got the full maximum penalty for what was obviously a very callous crime — 20 years non-parole and with his 2 years served he’d be out in 18. He would still be getting off lightly.

  55. “Actually there’s a third, more likely possibility — the jury fell for the bullshit story put to them by the defense counsel.”

    Yeah but thats just tough then isn’t it?

    I mean whats the answer if you are right?

    Deny the accused the right to a defense?

    The defense counsel is under an obligation to defend his or her client to the best of their ability regardless of how they feel about the case.

    In cases like this instead of blaming the jury, or the defense or the judge, have a good look at it (the case transcript)and then have a good look at the prosecution.

    If she snapped at his abuse and attacked him with a knife or a baseball bat and he responded that that could be self defense. Perhaps.

    The trouble with the law (or perhaps its a good thing) is that people are tried for actual actions they are responsible for. Not for trends of behaviour, or thinking about it or any number of things. Just their specific actions.

    Its quite possible that you could think someone you bullied was gonna kill you if they came at you one day.

    And no none of that justifies his being a piece of shit.

    Which he obviously was.

    But if you think this decision is wrong (and you may have a point,) why blame everyone but the people who failed to do their job properly.

    The prosecution.

  56. Jules,

    “But if you think this decision is wrong (and you may have a point,) why blame everyone but the people who failed to do their job properly.

    The prosecution.”

    You clearly didn’t read my initial post — look at the last sentence.

    “Yeah, our justice system is really looking after victims.”

    That means the whole system is failing victims of crime.

  57. Gavin, that’s a staggeringly arrogant conclusion to reach. It’s based on assuming that the twelve ordinary men and women who heard the evidence knew less about the case than you do. Unless you were in court during the trial, I don’t know how you can make that claim.

  58. The whole system?

    It was the prosecution that recommended a sentence of 10 – 11 years.

    “11 The jury, by its verdict, acquitting you of murder, found that you believed yourself to be at risk of death or really serious injury and that stabbing her was necessary to avert the danger to yourself. Nevertheless, by convicting you of defensive homicide they concluded that you did not have reasonable grounds for that belief. ”

    From the judgement.

    See the jury here finds that the guy didn’t intend to murder her.

    If he had a reasonable ground for his belief, he would have got off on self defense.

    But he didn’t.

    So if he goes to prison and plays up he’ll be in there for over 10 years.

    If he tries to rehabilitate he may only serve 8 years.

    Parole isn’t automatic. People have to earn it.

    You’re assuming it will be automatic.

    Also while we are on the subject. Spose the victim had actually been trying to kill him, and succeeded? Cos in some ways it seems thats what should have happened.

    On the surface of it.

    But sometimes people end up in self destructive drug fucked relationships and help kill each other. Usually its their lifestyle that kills them not each other, but in many cases thats only a hair’s breadth away.

    Often both partners are violent and psychotic, but often the guy is just better at violence.

    Its rare that either of them want the other dead, its just they are fucked up people. Usually they think they love each other, and maybe even some do.

    It seems clear these two were drug fucked and bad for each other, but that isn’t the same as assuming the guy actually wanted to kill the girl.

    If he did they should have able to make a case for it that showed he wanted to murder her beyond reasonable doubt.

    Some guy got life the other for the premeditated murder of his wife. Cos he threw her off the rocks after marrying her to get her cash. (I think.)

    If you compare those two cases maybe then its a fair sentence.

    Then again … maybe the judge felt a junkie’s life was worth a bit less than someone else. Tho reading the judgement that doesn’t appear to be the case.

  59. Actually Jeremy its based on the fact that 12 ordinary men and women can easily be bamboozled by a glib-tongued defense counsel, whose job is to show the accused in the most sympathetic as possible light in order to either get a not guilty verdict at best, or at worst, the lightest possible sentence.

    I’d be interested to get a full transcript of this case to see how the murder trial of a bloke, with a history of physically abusing this woman – including still facing outstanding charges for assaulting her, who shouldn’t even have been at her house, who had armed himself with a fishing knife – (I wonder if he got that at her house or if he brought it with him) – and who was twice her size, ended up with a sentence based on a self defense verdict — his counsel must’ve been bloody good.

  60. Or there were important pieces of evidence of which you’re unaware.

    I do agree that reading the transcript would give you much better information.

    My point is that whenever you look at these supposed examples of courts being “soft”, there’s always more than meets the eye. In order to get you outraged, important factors are excluded, and others (like the length of the sentence) are reported in an extremely misleading fashion.

    If you don’t keep your wits about you and ask the pertinent questions, it’s very easy to gradually come to believe the line they’re selling you.

  61. “It was the prosecution that recommended a sentence of 10 – 11 years.”

    I didn’t realise that judges were bound to impose the sentences suggested by prosecutors.

    “See the jury here finds that the guy didn’t intend to murder her”

    Yes, a jury no doubt swayed by the arguments of the defense counsel telling them how much he loved her, how he was a childhood victim of abuse or was disadvantaged in some other way, and how he was afraid of all 50kg’s of her, (incidentally, if he was so afraid of her, why did he breach his bail conditions and a court intervention order and go to her house ?) — in other words, as per my post above.

    “Parole isn’t automatic. People have to earn it.”

    Given the past record of our parole system, I’m willing to bet he’ll be out in 6 years.

    Jeremy,

    Is it possible to get transcripts of court cases — I’ve never tried.

  62. “I didn’t realise that judges were bound to impose the sentences suggested by prosecutors.”

    They’re not. This one imposed a higher sentence, apparently.

    “Yes, a jury no doubt swayed by the arguments of the defense counsel telling them how much he loved her, how he was a childhood victim of abuse or was disadvantaged in some other way, and how he was afraid of all 50kg’s of her”

    Yes, that must be it. The jury must have been stupid and gullible. If only you were sitting on it!

    “(incidentally, if he was so afraid of her, why did he breach his bail conditions and a court intervention order and go to her house ?) “

    Something I’d bet was raised.

    “Given the past record of our parole system, I’m willing to bet he’ll be out in 6 years.”

    What are you talking about? What “past record”? Are you basing that on the way the Hun constantly reports non-parole terms as if they’re the sentence that will actually be served?

    “Is it possible to get transcripts of court cases — I’ve never tried.”

    Yes, contact the Supreme Court library. Most aren’t online for free, though.

  63. Like Jeremy said the judge imposed a harsher sentence, and if you are willing to bet he’ll be out in 6 years are you also willing to bet he’ll reoffend and be locked back up?

    Cos if he gets out in 6 years and goes on to do some good (which is the point of rehab.

    But I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    “Yes, a jury no doubt swayed by the arguments of the defense counsel telling them how much he loved her, how he was a childhood victim of abuse or was disadvantaged in some other way, and how he was afraid of all 50kg’s of her, (incidentally, if he was so afraid of her, why did he breach his bail conditions and a court intervention order and go to her house ?) — in other words, as per my post above.”

    Would you be persuaded by that? Why assume the jury would?

    Cos honestly thats not a convincing argument. Really those reasons you cite are not a valid excuse for killing someone. And its a bit much to assume that or any jury is that stupid or easily influenced.

    Perhaps women’s legal advocate’s might give you some reasons why the jury might have been inclined to see this in the guy’s favour.

    Or perhaps the facts of the case were what they were, and he went over there not expecting anything to happen but the situation devolved. Sometimes that happens (especially with hardcore drug users – which it appears they were.)

    Honestly without knowing the facts yourself, then … to be frank that whole “Jury’s are so stupid they believe the snake oil that gets sold to them” argument is really elitist and annoying.

    It assumes that ordinary people are to stupid to be trusted with justice.

    When its used to argue against the apparent elitism of the current legal system (which has valid arguments against it re elitism, but not the ones the right wing media makes,) it creates some spectacular cognitive dissonance.

    If juries are too dumb to be trusted with judgements, and judges are too self interested and “elitist” then what do we do?

    Dismantle the common law system?

  64. “Yes, contact the Supreme Court library. Most aren’t online for free, though.”

    Thanks Jeremy, I’m interested enough in this case to do so.

    “They’re not. This one imposed a higher sentence, apparently.”

    But still not high enough.

    “Yes, that must be it. The jury must have been stupid and gullible. If only you were sitting on it!

    If only — but still wouldn’t have done much good…I’d only be one voice in twelve.

    More to the point, a group of people who aren’t expert in a given field don’t have to be stupid and gullible to be influenced by someone who is — that’s why door to door salesmen and shonky car dealers do so well.

    “Something I’d bet was raised.”

    It’s mentioned in the judgement — but doesn’t seem to have had much significance placed on it, I reckon it should’ve been seen as very significant.

    And getting back to my statement that our entire legal system fails victims I’ll use this quote from the judge in this case as an example:

    “I was told that in terms of the seriousness of the offence, and not taking into account other factors, your offence would sit at the upper end of the mid-range.”

    A young woman is stabbed 4 times in the back and left on the street to slowly and painfully die from drowning in her own blood or by bleeding to death and according to our “justice” system this offence sits at the “upper end of the mid-range” !

    That’s disgusting and it absolutely highlights the lack of justice for victims.

  65. ‘A young woman is stabbed 4 times in the back and left on the street to slowly and painfully die from drowning in her own blood or by bleeding to death”

    That is not an accurate summary of the crime of which he was convicted. What you’ve described is a murder. For one thing, you’ve deliberately left out the fact that he was found to have acted in self-defence.

    Your complaints about the justice system can’t be taken seriously when you have to twist the facts in order to make your complaint.

  66. “Perhaps women’s legal advocate’s might give you some reasons why the jury might have been inclined to see this in the guy’s favour.”

    Yes Jules, perhaps you might try and find one that supports this guy — the only ones in the articles I linked aren’t so keen and I can’t find reference to any that are anywhere else.

    “Or perhaps the facts of the case were what they were, and he went over there not expecting anything to happen but the situation devolved. ”

    Are you serious ?
    He opened the door to the house he wasn’t supposed to be at with a knife in his hand- that implies he gained entry when the resident (his victim), wasn’t home, why would he be there waiting for her with a knife ?

  67. “For one thing, you’ve deliberately left out the fact that he was found to have acted in self-defence.”

    No Jeremy, he was found guilty of defensive homicide not self defence.

    And I’m going to see if I can get a copy of the transcript, because there is no way in hell that this case looks like anything other than murder to me.

  68. Sorry, he was found to have acted in self-defence but it was not reasonable for him to have believed so. So it wasn’t actual self-defence (which would be a full defence to both charges and he’d have been acquitted and released), but he believed genuinely but unreasonably that his conduct was necessary.

    Of course if you describe the offence like you have, leaving that element out, then it sounds like a murder and the sentence makes no sense. But that’s not what happened.

    Still, I have to say, I’m not really convinced that the charge itself, “defensive homicide”, is a good one – it was a good idea to get rid of the provocation defence, but I’m yet to see an example where I think defensive homicide is more appropriate than murder or acquittal.

  69. And I note you’ve ignored Jules’ very good points:

    “It assumes that ordinary people are to stupid to be trusted with justice.

    When its used to argue against the apparent elitism of the current legal system (which has valid arguments against it re elitism, but not the ones the right wing media makes,) it creates some spectacular cognitive dissonance.

    If juries are too dumb to be trusted with judgements, and judges are too self interested and “elitist” then what do we do?

    Dismantle the common law system?”

    It’s a good question, gavin.

  70. >>“Perhaps women’s legal advocate’s might give you some reasons why the jury might have been inclined to see this in the guy’s favour.”

    Yes Jules, perhaps you might try and find one that supports this guy — the only ones in the articles I linked aren’t so keen and I can’t find reference to any that are anywhere else.<>“Or perhaps the facts of the case were what they were, and he went over there not expecting anything to happen but the situation devolved. ”

    Are you serious ?
    He opened the door to the house he wasn’t supposed to be at with a knife in his hand- that implies he gained entry when the resident (his victim), wasn’t home, why would he be there waiting for her with a knife ?<<

    I dunno. But surely …

    How stupid do you think people are? Especially people who are serious enough to take on jury duty in such a full on case.

    Do you really think the Australian people as a whole, and Victorians in particular deserve starring roles in Idiocracy?

    If you or I were on that jury on the face of it we'd both be pretty sus on that guy, well I assume you would be. And I'd assume given what happened (he stabbed her and she died) the people on that jury would approach this and evaluate the evidence as seriously as I'd hope you or I would, with an open mind to making a judgment on what happened then determining the accused guilt or innocence.

    I've said before that I used to live a pretty wild life, and while this case isn't the same, once I saw two friends, a couple, genuinely delude themselves into believing someone else was out to kill them. They both sat there in front of me and hallucinated overhearing a conversation where a third person planned to kill them both (he made these plans with his wife.)

    When they asked me what we were gonna do about it and I didn't know wtf they were talking about they thought I was in on it took off when my back was turned and walked halfway across melbourne in fear of their lives.

    These were good friends (and still are nearly 20 years later) and they told me later what they thought was going on when they had come down. And come to their senses.

    But it really ruined the other relationship.

    And they had no reasonable grounds for their belief. I don't think temporary pychosis induced by a four or five day speed binge counts.

    But they genuinely believed it. And none of these relationships had a history of mutual violence (to my knowledge anyway, but really…)

    I know I sometimes tell some stories that may seem a bit bullshit, but I'm not making shit up.

    This stuff happens and its up to the court to decide if t has any mitigating value.

    Honestly most people are generally decent (whatever their flaws, and whatever their political affiliation) when put in a situation where people expect them to do things properly.

    Most people want to see justice done.

    They may feel this person wouldn't have acted that way if he wasn't suffering some of drug induced impairment. They may feel he deserves punishment but not the sort of punishment that should be meted out to someone who acted maliciously and with a premeditated desire to kill.

    Thats their decision to make. We have to trust they made it in good faith or else its time to smash open our neighbours skulls and munch on the gooey stuff.

    I know I'm speculating about the facts here but this shit happens. People lose it, and maybe they shouldn't, but it happens. The consequences can be horrendous, and this looks like its probably an example to my mind.

    And just out of interest Gav, were you this upset when Chris Hurley got off?

    And given that, seriously Gavin whats's your answer to my question as reiterated by Jeremy.

    What other options are, and while we are at it what would you rather see done? (Serious question, if you answer it with any sincerity or thought I won't react like I did to that other poster.)

  71. Hey a chunk of that last post went missing.

    Bsically my point about the womens legal advocates POV would be this guy got off lightly cos of an entrenched male bias.

    Not that he deserved what he got, but that he a lesser punishment because he’s a guy. They may have a point about the entrenched bias, but I dunno about this case. I’m guessing ( tho it is a guess) that some sort of drug induced psychosis was involved. But I dunno enough to really say.

  72. Jeremy,

    I meant to comment on this from you too…

    “A young woman is stabbed 4 times in the back and left on the street to slowly and painfully die from drowning in her own blood or by bleeding to death” (My quote)

    That is not an accurate summary of the crime of which he was convicted. (Your quote) ”

    I’m sorry, but that is precisely what happened in this incident, it says so in the judgement — there is no dispute about that, and no amount of legal spin as to what he was actually convicted for will change that truth. So I’m glad you agree with me that this was indeed a murder and the verdict reached was incorrect.

    “If juries are too dumb to be trusted with judgements, and judges are too self interested and “elitist” then what do we do?

    Dismantle the common law system?”

    It’s a good question, gavin.”

    I didn’t wilfully ignore Jules’ points — I believe I addressed the “juries being dumb” suggestion a couple of times with my statements that people don’t have to be idiots to be taken in by experts in their field — e.g. jurors by glib-tongued defense counsels.

    As to judges being disinterested or elitist — I’m not so sure that is the case, I tend to think that some of them at least may be a bit out of touch with community expectations, but I think also that they are somewhat restricted in the range of penalties they can apply for crimes.

    I’m not sure about an alternative to our present system — perhaps a panel of judges for serious crimes rather than a jury ?

    Jules,

    Interesting story about your friends — but did they actually go and kill anyone…If they did, given that they had discussed and planned it they should face charges of premeditated murder – it also is irrelevant to this case, as you say there was no history of violence between those parties, there was however a long history of this bloke physically abusing his victim.

    Chris Hurley is also irrelevant here — but to answer your question, it is a disgrace that he wasn’t convicted for at least manslaughter, I’m not upset about it, but I’m certainly disgusted that he wasn’t.

    Incidentally, I’m also not upset about this verdict and sentence — once again, disgust is a better description.

  73. “I didn’t wilfully ignore Jules’ points — I believe I addressed the “juries being dumb” suggestion a couple of times with my statements that people don’t have to be idiots to be taken in by experts in their field — e.g. jurors by glib-tongued defense counsels.”

    But why would the prosecution be less glib tongued and less likely to take in jurors?

    “As to judges being disinterested or elitist — I’m not so sure that is the case, I tend to think that some of them at least may be a bit out of touch with community expectations, but I think also that they are somewhat restricted in the range of penalties they can apply for crimes.”

    Well often they are limited by legislation, ie you can’t lock someone up for life after being busted with a small bag of cannabis because the penalty is so obviously out of proportion to the crime.

    The legislated limit on the crime of defensive homicide is apparantly 20 years. Which I find odd, it should be either around what this guy got (10 years) because people get less than 20 years for murder, I fail to understand how killing someone and getting convicted of murder could lead to a smaller penalty than killing someone and being acquitted of murder but found guilty of a lesser crime.

    But thats just me.

    As for community expectations … well really … its abit like unAustralian values.

    We don’t really hear about it except in a particular context from the same sources (with an agenda.)

    If the community were that concerned they would be organising town hall meetings and stuff. (Well they should be.)

    But I can understand how people feel that judges are out of step with expectations. They make thousands of decisions every day and the bad ones are the ones that generate publicity. No one seems to mind when judges find murders guilty and sentence them harshly. Which happens. All the time, including recently.

    Given the adversarial nature of the legal system people will always be unhappy with it, and criminal law, well ultimately its shutting the gate after the hors has bolted.

    The criminal law doesn’t prevent crime, just deals with the aftereffects of reported crime. Its never gonna satisfy on that level cos of its inability to actually stop the bad things happening.

    “I’m not sure about an alternative to our present system — perhaps a panel of judges for serious crimes rather than a jury ?”

    That does happen in some cases doesn’t it, appeals to higher courts for example.

    Tho honestly I’m always in favour of juries whatever their flaws.

    Juries are us, in a democracy we should be involved in as many different forms of government as possible, and that includes juries.

    I’m actually in favour of jury nullification (if thats the right term.)

    If I was on trial for something I hadn’t done I’d rather have a jury, and if it was no jury or one with you I’d rather you were on it Gav. I wouldn’t mind either way.

    I think its important that people are actively involved in how their society functions. Whatever the minor inconvenience.

    Obviously tho there needs to be more connection between the legal system and everyday people who might not encounter it much. Regardless of our differences on the case you mentioned, I think the more engaged everyone is with what happens the better it’ll work.

    “Interesting story about your friends — but did they actually go and kill anyone…If they did, given that they had discussed and planned it they should face charges of premeditated murder – it also is irrelevant to this case, as you say there was no history of violence between those parties, there was however a long history of this bloke physically abusing his victim.”

    Thats all fair enough my point is, well in that situation the 3 of us were in a room and they either had a shared hallucination and followed it up with a telepathic conversation or I dunno what happened, cos they didn’t say anything or discuss anything with me.

    The first I knew of it was them saying did you hear that what should we do? Or WTTE.

    And cos I didn’t know what they were on about they assumed I was part of the plot.

    When my back was turned they bolted, but they might have easily assumed I was going for a gun and hit me on the head with something. They were nuts at the time. That wouldn’t have been premeditated unless you count telepathy (good luck proving that in court) or an unspoken agreement based on summing up the situation, which can happen.

    My point with that story is that its possible for people to wrongly believe they are in danger for no good reason, especially when they are drug fucked as this guy appears to be.

    As to his intent.

    Without a transcript of the whole thing …

    All I’m doing is speculating and assuming the jury acted in good faith.

    I disagree with your assessment on this, but I would be open to changing my mind if the appropriate evidence came up.

    As far as Hurley goes … well people abusing their power and others is not good. Both cases involve abusive power relationships, just different sorts.

    I think Hurley got away with it, although I don’t think this guy has to anything like the same extent. This guy will spend at least 8 years in gaol.

  74. Hi Jules,

    As you say, a full transcript of this case would be helpful.

    One thing that does strike me though is the defendant’s claim that the victim had a knife — the judge says that the only evidence for this is the defendant’s say so, and lets face it, he’s hardly a credible witness.

    There is no mention in the judgement of any injuries suffered in this incident by the defendant, nor is there any mention of police finding another weapon at the scene — I would’ve thought if either of these were evident the judge would have mentioned them along with the other mitigating factors that are in the judgement.

    I’d also have thought if, as mentioned by the judge, he was affected by alcohol and she was affected by marijuana, she would have landed at least one blow on him while he was “reaching over her shoulder” to stab her in the back 4 times, even with the difference in size and strength, all the more so, if as his own testimony states she appeared to be unaffected at first when she was stabbed, and he disarmed her after stabbing her.

    “But why would the prosecution be less glib tongued and less likely to take in jurors?”

    The prosecutor presents the crime for which the defendant is being charged and requests a penalty, the defense counsel gets to talk about the defendant’s history and character, thus the defense can appeal to the jurors’ sympathies by presenting their client in the best possible light.

    How many times in trials do we hear about the defendant having a disadvantaged or abusive childhood, or that they are mentally incapable of taking responsibility for their actions ?
    Defense counsels have far more scope to sweet talk a jury than prosecutors do.

    “This guy will spend at least 8 years in gaol.”

    Yes he will – which is far less than the life sentence he deserves for this murder.

  75. “the defense counsel gets to talk about the defendant’s history and character, thus the defense can appeal to the jurors’ sympathies by presenting their client in the best possible light.”

    Um, not if they don’t want to give the prosecution the go-ahead to address their poor character.

    “How many times in trials do we hear about the defendant having a disadvantaged or abusive childhood, or that they are mentally incapable of taking responsibility for their actions ?”

    The former you never hear in the trial itself: that would be part of a plea in mitigation before the sentencing judge. It has nothing to do with any questions before the jury.

    The second is of course a matter for evidence – insanity is obviously a defence. If that’s the issue of the trial, then you’re talking about competing medical experts.

    I think you’re labouring under some serious misconceptions about how it actually works. Have you ever sat in on a trial for a serious crime, Gavin? If jury duty comes up, you should really try to serve.

  76. Hello Jeremy,

    I’ve never been called for jury service — maybe something to do with being out of the country for so long ? I certainly wouldn’t shirk the responsibility though.

  77. Just dragging this discussion back to the original topic of suspended sentences….

    Let’s consider the decision handed down today on that tragic case of the bloke who failed to give way at a rail level crossing in Modewarre, and whose wife and daughter were killed as a result.

    I think it’s readily arguable that the three-year prison sentence was appropriate to his conviction for dangerous driving causing death. But also that it was appropriate to suspend the sentence, considering the circumstances.

    If we were to give in to the tabloid media view of justice, he would now be in jail. Would the readers of the Herald Sun really consider this a more just outcome?

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