R v Terkmani [2017] NSWSC 1154 and Unfavourable Witnesses

By Sophie Coulson

Introduction

Section 38 of the Evidence Act 1995 (NSW) permits a party calling a witness to go against the ordinary course and cross-examine that witness on certain matters where leave is granted. The recent judgment of McCallum J in R v Terkmani [2017] NSWSC 1154 considers a number of applications made by the Crown pursuant to this provision. This article firstly considers the operation of s 38 and then examines some of the applications made pursuant to s 38 in the case of Terkmani. Continue reading “R v Terkmani [2017] NSWSC 1154 and Unfavourable Witnesses”

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R v Lazarus [2017] NSWCCA 279

By Andrew Tiedt

The Court of Criminal Appeal has handed down its decision on the appeal by the Crown against Luke Lazarus’ acquittal, following a judge alone retrial.

Procedural Background and Facts

Lazarus was tried in early 2015 and convicted by a jury of one count of sexual intercourse without consent, contrary to s 61I of the Crimes Act 1900.

The allegation was that he sexually assaulted an 18 year old woman in the alley behind his father’s nightclub. They had met on the dance floor of the club that evening. She was intoxicated.

Lazarus and the complainant kissed each other in the alley. On the complainant’s version, after a while they stopped and she asked to return to the club, at which time she claimed the accused raped her. The accused claimed that they engaged in consensual intercourse.

After being convicted, Lazarus was sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years, with a non-parole period of 3 years. He appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal, arguing that the trial judge misdirected the jury on the question of consent. He also alleged that the verdict was unreasonable.

Continue reading “R v Lazarus [2017] NSWCCA 279”

Director of Public Prosecutions v Dalgliesh (A Psyuedonym)

By Nicholas Morrisey

In Director of Public Prosecutions v Dalgliesh (A Psyuedonym), the High Court (‘the Court’) unanimously allowed an appeal on sentence from the Victorian Court of Appeal (‘Court of Appeal’). In doing so, the Court again affirmed the desirability of the process of instinctive synthesis and reiterated the importance of individualised justice. No single factor in sentencing is to be afforded supremacy in such a way as to fetter discretion or allow an unjust sentence to stand. The decision also acts as a reminder for practitioners that when considering a plea of guilty, the accused’s expectation of a sentencing outcome will not act as a bar to the fixing of a just sentence.

Background

The respondent (the accused) pleaded guilty to two acts of incest (charge 1 and 2), one act of sexual penetration of a child under 16 (charge 4) and one act of indecent assault (charge 3). He was sentenced in the County Court to an overall term of imprisonment of five years and six months with a non-parole period of three years.

The circumstances of charge 1 were that the respondent was in a de facto relationship with the complainant’s mother. The complainant was aged 13 at the time of the offence. She fell pregnant as a result and told her mother that the father was a friend from school, a lie to which the respondent acquiesced. The pregnancy was terminated and the family moved to a rural town. The indicative sentence on charge 1 was three years and six months imprisonment against a maximum penalty of 25 years.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (‘the Director’) lodged an appeal (DPP v Dalgliesh (a Pseudonym) [2016] VSCA 148) against the sentence imposed on charge 1 (incest). The relevant ground was that the sentence was manifestly inadequate. Subsequently, the Deputy Registrar wrote to the parties, stating that the case was an appropriate vehicle to consider the adequacy of current sentencing practices for the offence of incest, but that the ‘decision on the general question will not, of course, affect the outcome of the appeal.’

The focus of the appeal was s 5(2) of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic), which provides a list of factors that a court is to have regard to in sentencing an offender. One of the ten factors listed is ‘current sentencing practices’ under s 5(2)(b).

The joint judgment (Maxwell ACJ, Redlich and Beach JJA) dismissed the appeal on the basis that ‘though extremely lenient’, the Director was unable to establish that the sentence imposed was outside the range of sentences reasonably open to the judge based on current sentencing practices (at [52]). Going even further, it was stated that ‘but for the constraints of current sentencing practice, the objective seriousness of the conduct… demanded a considerably longer sentence.’ In arriving at the decision, the Court of Appeal considered twelve cases of incest involving pregnancy, in which the range of sentences extended from four to seven years imprisonment.

As foreshadowed by the Deputy Registrar’s communication, the joint judgment undertook a bifurcated approach to the appeal. Having decided the substantive appeal in part A of its reasons, the Court in part B considered whether the current sentencing practice in relation to incest charges were inadequate. It concluded that ‘current sentencing for incest reveals error in principle’ (at [128]) and again stated that ‘but for the constraints of current sentencing… we would have no hesitation in concluding that the sentence imposed on [the respondent] was manifestly inadequate’ (at [132]).

High Court

The High Court sat as a bench of five, handing down two judgments (Kiefel CJ, Bell and Keane JJ; and Gageler and Gordon JJ), arriving at the same conclusion. Namely, that having reached the decisions that the sentence imposed was manifestly inadequate, the Court of Appeal erred in allowing current sentencing practices to bind its decision on the matter before it. Particularly in circumstances where it had established that those very sentencing practices revealed an error of principle.

The Court particularly focused on the Court of Appeal’s view that the comparable cases restricted the range of sentences ‘within which judges are able to sentence’ (VCA, [64]). This set an artificial ceiling to the available sentences at seven years for high range offending, despite the statutory maximum penalty of 25 years. This ignored the fact that current sentencing was but one of ten diverse factors listed under s 5(2) (at [79]), which, among other things, also required that a court must have regard to the maximum penalty prescribed (s 5(2)(a)) and the nature and gravity of the offence (s 5(2)(c)) (at [9]).

The majority judgment, citing Wong v The Queen, stressed that the process of instinctive synthesis requires that all relevant factors be considered and balanced to arrive at a sentence that is just in all the circumstances (at [5]). While s 5(2)(b) expresses concern that consistency in sentencing should be maintained as an aspect of the rule of law, this requires only consistent application of relevant legal principles, not strict adherence to a range of sentences that is demonstrably contrary to principle (at [50]).

Both judgments concluded by considering the bifurcated approach of the Court of Appeal. The majority opined that the basis for doing so was to avoid unfairness to the respondent who had pleaded guilty in expectation of a certain sentencing outcome (at [64]). The majority stated that ‘the only expectation that an offender can have at sentence is one of the imposition of a just sentence according to law’ (at [65]) and that:

it is well established that even an express plea bargain between the prosecution and the accused cannot  affect the duty… to impose a sentence which appears to the court, acting solely in the public interest, to be just in all the circumstances (at [66]).

Final Note on Two Judgments:

There appears to be little differentiation (despite brevity) between the majority judgment and that of Gageler and Gordon JJ on the determination of the matter before it. One explanation for the separate judgment may be the avoidance of reference to broader sentencing principles, particularly instinctive synthesis. Another explanation may the apparent hint by the majority at a willingness in the future to reconsider the position that Crown appeals on sentence should be exceptional and a rarity (at [61]).

“Revenge” Porn or Child Porn? Is New South Wales’ First Image-Based Abuse Charge being Misapplied?

By Aurhett Barrie

A 20 year old man has been charged in what appears to be the first case prosecuting New South Wales’ new “revenge porn” offences, however the charges have arguably been misapplied, potentially minimising what may amount to more serious conduct.

Continue reading ““Revenge” Porn or Child Porn? Is New South Wales’ First Image-Based Abuse Charge being Misapplied?”

The Queen v Holliday [2017] HCA 35 (“R v Holliday”)

By Thomas Buckingham

Holliday was charged with, inter alia, inciting the kidnapping of two witnesses in relation to crimes for which he was in custody awaiting sentence. He was tried on indictment in the ACT Supreme Court before a Judge and Jury. The Crown case at trial was that while Holliday was in jail he urged a fellow inmate to procure another or others to carry out his plan for the witnesses to be kidnapped and forced to read pre-prepared statements on camera, recanting their evidence against him. The fellow inmate did not follow-through, instead reporting Holliday to the authorities. Holliday was ultimately convicted of one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice and two counts of inciting kidnapping.

Under s 47 of the ACT Criminal Code a person commits the offence of Continue reading “The Queen v Holliday [2017] HCA 35 (“R v Holliday”)”

The relevance of an accused’s flight to a consciousness of guilt: Grogan v The Queen [2016] NSWCCA 168

By Anastasia Kalos

In a unanimous judgment of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, Ward and RA Hulme JA and  Davies J held that evidence of the appellant’s flight was admissible as it was “very relevant” to the issue of whether the appellant assaulted the deceased, despite the fact that the death of the deceased occurred 3 months after the assault. Continue reading “The relevance of an accused’s flight to a consciousness of guilt: Grogan v The Queen [2016] NSWCCA 168”

The Queen v Dookheea [2017] HCA 36

By Nicholas Morrissey 

In The Queen v Dookheea [2017] HCA 36, the High Court considered whether it was an error of law productive of a substantial miscarriage of justice for the trial judge in a murder trial to direct the jury that the Crown did not have to satisfy the jury of the accused’s guilt ‘beyond any doubt, but beyond reasonable doubt.’ The judgment doesn’t break any new ground, but acts as a reminder of the wise course of action in directing a jury on the criminal standard of proof. Continue reading “The Queen v Dookheea [2017] HCA 36”

Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) v Jones, Dillon Michael [2017] NSWCCA 164

By Kartini Saddington

In DPP v Jones, Dillon Michael [2017] NSWCCA 164, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal responded to questions of law referred  by his Honour Judge Colefax SC, under s 5B of the Criminal Appeal Act 1912 (NSW). These questions fell under three main categories: can a Local Court Magistrate revoke bonds imposed by a District Court judge; can a direction that a bond be called up before a particular judge be binding; and if the Local Court does not have jurisdiction to revoke District Court bonds, is the resultant sentence invalid? Continue reading “Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) v Jones, Dillon Michael [2017] NSWCCA 164”