Sentence watch – another installment

I sometimes get into trouble for drawing sentences to the attention of Troppodillians that look too light to me. Well maybe someone can set me straight. I’ve not checked out the cases, but they look wrong to me.

Case 1. An 11-year-old Canberra boy who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl at knife-point was found not guilty by an ACT judge on the grounds he was too young to realise he had done something wrong. The boy had someone else go on the lookout while he perpetrated this act. I wonder why he did that if he didn’t think what he was doing was wrong.

Case 2. Mathew Newton – Bert’s son – bashed up his former partner Brooke and was given a 12 month good behaviour bond. This was overturned on appeal. In Jocelyn Scutt’s words in today’s Crikey! (not available on Crikey’s website) “The appeal was not upheld, said his Honour, because of Newton’s talent as an entertainer or because his parents were Australian icons. Rather, his ”mental illness” at the time, ”punishment” by the media and the ”extraordinary personal references”, along with the impact upon his career, warranted quashing the conviction.”

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16 years ago

In the 19th century, there was an English judge named Kekewich.

It was said, no doubt apocryphally, that on an appeal from one of his judgments, counsel for the appellant began his submissions by saying, “My lords, this is an appeal from a judgment of his Lordship, Mr Justice Kekewich, but there are other grounds as well.”

I can’t think now what made that come into my mind.

smiling politely
smiling politely
16 years ago

There’s already been a great deal of discussion about the first case over at Canberra blog The RiotAct –, including excerpts from the actual judgement.

smiling politely
smiling politely
16 years ago

Canberra blog The RiotAct has a thread on the first case –

Joshua Gans
16 years ago

I can’t fault your logic, Nicholas, but someone might as well play devil’s advocate. Justice Higgins’ reasoning is not inherently absurd. If a seven-year-old were to threaten a shopkeeper with a (real looking) toy gun, even if he got his mate to serve as lookout on the footpath, we would probably agree that he was acting out a fantasy and not acting with genuine criminal intent. So we are actually quibbling about what age is a reasonable cut-off. Ironically, it seems to be because of the very seriousness and adult nature of the alleged crime in this case, that the judge has concluded that the 11-year-old may not have known what he was doing.

Presumably your motivation is not that you’d like to see the boy punished, but that it does neither the perpetrator nor the victim any good for the court to pronounce that no crime took place. I agree, and it also seems a missed opportunity for a bit of badly-needed ‘counselling, psychiatric assessments [and] rehabilitative treatment.’

I’m assuming that the judge would have had the discretion not to impose a custodial sentence. On the other hand, if the ACT has some idiotic ‘truth in sentencing’ legislation, maybe he acquitted him just to keep him out of some awful juvenile correction centre.

Ann O'Dyne
16 years ago

re Matthew Newton and ex-girlfriend Brooke:

“bashed up” implies … multiple injurious strikes.

It has not been as widely publicised, that
Brooke did NOT BRING THE COMPLAINT, but the police did.
Newton MAY have only shoved her in frustration at provocation …

You cannot say “bashed up” if it was
‘one shove in the chest’ accompanied
by a lot of loud swearing that made neighbours call the cops.

Newton’s punishment has been meted out beyond the Court, the juvenile criminal’s has not.

16 years ago

Sentence comparison is always fraught and usually responded to with “you didn’t hear all the evidendce” – the lofy equivalent of “don’t worry your pretty little head”.
Today we have Glenn Wheatley’s 2.5yrs, non parole of 15 months compared to the NSW paedophile DPP getting 6 months.
And just to really invite comparison of chalk & cheesey, the Sydney airport whistleblower got 9 months, fully suspended. Go figure.