Charges: Manslaughter x 1; Breach of domestic violence order x 1.
Case type: Sentence.
Facts: The defendant and deceased had been in a relationship. After consuming alcohol and methamphetamines, the defendant beat the deceased in their home with punches, kicks, and hit the soles of her feet with a hammer (). The deceased was discharged from hospital, but died of internal bleeding the next day (-). The defendant pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Issues: Sentence to be imposed.
Decision and Reasoning: Bell J imposed a sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 9 years. His Honour considered that the contravention of a domestic violence order made it a serious example of manslaughter ().
Bell J at :
“Denunciation and specific and general deterrence are sentencing principles through which the law gives effect to the fundamental purpose of protecting individuals and the community from crime. Ms Cay and all other women have an inviolable human right to life, to equality – not just the appearance of equality but to real equality, to physical and emotional integrity, to respect for their dignity and personal autonomy, to loving relationships with children and others, and to freedom from fear of physical or mental harm. They look to the law for protection from men who would perpetrate crimes of assault or homicide upon them in a domestic setting by reason of failing to control their anger, aggression and rage. While the police cannot be present in every home on every occasion of risk, the values and standards of human behaviour that the criminal law demands are omnipresent. The courts must respond appropriately through the sentencing process when those standards are severely or seriously breached, as they have been in this case, for this vindicates the individual interests of victims in seeing that perpetrators are brought to justice, as well as the general interests of the community in seeing that justice is so done, and also performs the important educative function of positively influencing how the community, and especially men, value, respect and treat women.”
His Honour thought that the defendant had good prospects of rehabilitation, but the defendant’s efforts to stop drinking was not a mitigating factor ([27-).