People with children

The cases identified here provide examples of the way judicial officers have dealt with some of the issues raised in the context statement.

Click on the citation to be directed to a summary of the case in the Case Database.

  • Pasa v Bell [2014] ACTSC 303 (30 October 2014) – Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court
    Murrell CJ at [16]: ‘When considering the sentencing purposes set out in s 7 of the Sentencing Act, including general and personal deterrence, a sentencing court is entitled to consider the fact that an offence involved domestic violence, and that the violence has occurred at the victim’s home. An offence involving domestic violence is one that involves abuse of a partner, former partner or other family member (using the term “family” in the broadest sense). Frequently, such offences occur in the home, where the inhibitions of an offender may be lowered, the impact on the victim may be heightened (as she or he is made to feel that a formerly safe place has been violated) and the occurrence of the offence is more readily concealed. Further, where a domestic violence offence occurs in the victim’s home, it is often associated with secondary abuse to other family members’.
  • R v In [2001] ACTSC 102 (2 November 2001) – Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court
    Crispin J at [24]-[25]: ‘In my view the offences which the prisoner committed were too serious to be dealt with in that manner. His wife was confined for an extended period and, whether he now remembers it or not, he behaved in a manner which was clearly calculated to terrify her. He plainly made no attempt to conceal his identity, yet put tape over her eyes. It is difficult to imagine any explanation for that conduct other than that it was calculated to cause fear. Even if he did not intended to carry them out, it is obvious that his threats to kill the children were also made for that purpose. Furthermore, his conduct in turning on the tap in the kitchen, going to his daughter's bedroom and saying in a voice loud enough for his wife to hear "Now take this darling, I know tastes awful, doesn't it" amounted, in my view, to an exercise in sadistic cruelty. A tape recording of his wife's telephone call to obtain an ambulance was admitted in evidence. It records what one might have expected, a mother almost incoherent with fear that her children may have been poisoned’.
  • Connelly v Tasmania [2015] TASCCA (29 June 2015) – Court of Criminal Appeal of Tasmania
    The appellant attempted to kill his two children to spite his wife. Wood J at [23]: ‘The "nature of the crimes" encompasses a number of considerations: the appellant's moral culpability, the gravity of his criminal conduct, and the consequences of his crimes. The comments of the learned sentencing judge, set out in the reasons of Estcourt J, provide details of these matters and it is not necessary that I set them out here. However, I mention the following to demonstrate all that the expression captures in this instance. The appellant's moral culpability involved deliberative acts to kill his two young children, his determined efforts to carry out his decision, and extended to his vindictive motive to inflict maximum anguish and emotional trauma upon his wife. The gravity of the conduct captures that he almost succeeded in carrying out his purpose, that it was the "worst possible kind of abuse of trust", and the vulnerability of his victims. The severe, life-threatening injuries he caused to his sons fall within the nature of the crimes, as do as the victims' permanent scarring, prolonged hospitalisation and extensive surgical intervention. So, too, their "extraordinarily traumatic experience", the degree of emotional suffering and physical pain they have endured and difficulties they will continue to experience for the duration of their lives, as well as the risks to their psychological wellbeing. The nature of the crimes includes the emotional torment and harm the appellant in fact caused his wife, not just his intention to do so. It also includes the risk of grave harm to which others were exposed in endeavouring to save the lives of the victims. The nature of the crimes also captures the broader harm that is inevitably caused to the community when crimes such as these are committed’.