Charges: Aggravated assault, breach of alcohol protection order
Appeal type: Appeal against sentence
Facts: The appellant, who was intoxicated at the time, had an argument with his wife (the victim). He subsequently dragged the victim outside, punched her in the face multiple times, shoved her into a shelf and punched her twice in the stomach. He was charged and pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault under s 188(2)(b) Criminal Code 1983 (NT) (victim suffered harm and male-on-female assault) and one count of breaching a police issued Alcohol Protection Order. The appellant had a number of previous convictions, including three counts of aggravated assault against the victim, four counts of breach of a domestic violence order and nine counts of breaching an Alcohol Protection Order. He resided in Oenpelli and had been an artist member of Injalak Arts for around 20 years. This job would continue on the appellant’s release. His counsel argued his prospects of rehabilitation would be improved if he participated in the Family Violence Program. At trial, the magistrate relied on the seriousness of the offending and his past history to conclude the appellant needed to be specifically deterred, despite any positive attributes, and the community needed to know such conduct is unacceptable. The appellant was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment after a reduction of four months for pleading guilty. A non-parole period was not fixed due to the seriousness of the offending and continued ongoing breaches of court orders.
Issues: Some issues on appeal were whether the magistrate:
Decision and Reasoning: The appeal was upheld on ground 3. Grounds 1 and 2 were dismissed.
Blokland J began by noting that ‘Offending of this kind, men assaulting their wives or partners, is an intractable problem in the Northern Territory. With few exceptions, imprisonment is often the appropriate punishment… In most cases, particularly with respect to repeat offenders, positive subjective features generally need to be very carefully balanced as rarely will they outweigh the significance of the gravity of offending of this kind.’ ()