Charges: Aggravated burglary, Unlawful act intended to cause bodily harm, Breach of family violence order, Motor vehicle stealing, Destroying property
Appeal type: Appeal against sentence
Facts: The appellant and the protected person had been in a domestic relationship that ended towards the end of 2012. As a result of the appellant threatening to cut her throat and burn her house down, the protected person moved away from Hobart. Early in 2015, her house was burnt down, although no one was charged. The protected person then moved back to Hobart and entered into a new relationship. The appellant threatened her new partner, resulting in a family violence order restraining him from approaching the protected person.
On the day of offending, the appellant went to the protected person’s home, kicked the front door, smashed a window, drew a knife and threatened to kill her. The appellant then lunged towards the protected person who cut her hand as a result of trying to stop him. When the protected person’s partner came to assist, the appellant was holding the knife to the protected person’s throat and threatened ‘Why shouldn’t I kill him’. When her partner attempted to separate them, the appellant stabbed him in the stomach. In relation to this conduct the appellant was charged and pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated burglary, two counts of committing an unlawful act intended to cause bodily harm, three breaches of a family violence order, one count of motor vehicle stealing, and one count of destroying property. He was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment with no non-parole period.
The appellant had a long history of dishonest and violent offending commencing from childhood. When given the benefit of suspended sentences, bonds and parole in relation to these offences, the appellant breached them. A psychologist’s report noted the appellant had extremely low to borderline intellectual functioning and could be considered to have a mild intellectual disability. This was substantially the result of substance abuse in the view of the psychologist. The sentencing magistrate did not consider this as a mitigating factor, concluding there was a significant risk he would re-offend and therefore there was a need for specific deterrence.
Issue: Whether the sentence was manifestly excessive due to the magistrate failing to order a non-parole period.
Decision and reasoning: The appeal was dismissed.
Tennent J, with whom Porter and Pearce JJ agreed, held that the issue of whether or not to order a parole period is a matter for the discretion of the sentencing judge. His Honour took into account the relevant factors including the appellant’s offending history and disregard for orders in refusing to grant a non-parole order. The psychologist report did not suggest rehabilitation was likely. The sentencing judge therefore did not err in failing to order a non-parole period and the sentence was not manifestly excessive.