Women

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.

  • Vragovic v The Queen [2007] NSWCCA 46 (27 February 2007) – New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal
    Adams J at [33]: ‘It was once thought in some circles that domestic violence was somehow less serious than criminal violence inflicted in other circumstances. I do not agree. In many cases of domestic violence a distinguishing characteristic is the notion of the offender that he (and it is almost invariably a male) is entitled to act as he did pursuant to some perverted view of the rights of a male over a female with whom he is or was intimately connected. It is this characteristic of self-justification which requires particular emphasis to be given, in cases of this kind, to the elements of general and personal deterrence’.
  • R v Hamid [2006] NSWCCA 302 (20 September 2006) – New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal
    Johnson J at [77]: ‘These judicial statements are complemented by criminological research concerning domestic violence. An adequate account of domestic violence should recognise that it typically involves the exercise of power and control over the victim, is commonly recurrent, may escalate over time, may affect a number of people beyond the primary target (including children, other family members and supporters of the victim) and that it contributes to the subordination of women; domestic violence typically involves the violation of trust by someone with whom the victim shares, or has shared, an intimate relationship; the offender may no longer need to resort to violence in order to instil fear and control: J Stubbs, “Restorative Justice, Domestic Violence and Family Violence”, Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearing House, Issues Paper 9, 2004, pages 6-7’.
  • R v AKB [2018] NSWSC 1628 (2 November 2018) – New South Wales Supreme Court

    At [28], Davies J stated –

    ‘It needs to be made quite clear that marriage or a similar relationship gives no right to one party to control the other…As the cases which come before this Court so often demonstrate, those murders and other acts of violence occur because the woman will not bend her will to the man. That is what happened here. The Court must by the sentences imposed in these cases denounce such behaviour, because women should be able to feel safe and free from that control.’
  • R v Ellis [2018] QCA 70 (17 April 2018) – Queensland Court of Appeal

    Justice Philippides said at [26]:

    Although the offending concerned a single episode, it involved the protracted perpetration of violence of a callous and brutal nature calculated to inflict physical and mental torture. The violence was inflicted in the complainant’s house where she was entitled to be safe and protected and in the context of the applicant’s irrational jealousy after the complainant ended their relationship. In addition the conviction for domestic violence offences was required to be treated by the Court as an aggravating factor.
  • B, JL v Police [2017] SASC 9 (10 February 2017) – Supreme Court of South Australia

    Stanley J emphasised that the appellant had a history of domestic violence and highlighted the need for general deterrence at [19]:

    Offences of violence by men against women are all too prevalent. All too often they result in harm but the deterrence of those offences will not be adequately achieved unless all offences of violence, whether they cause harm or not, are properly addressed.
  • R v Wilkinson [2008] SASC 172 (4 July 2008) – Supreme Court of South Australia
    Gray J at [29]: ‘Domestic violence is predominantly directed by men toward women. The community expects the law to protect women, to protect the weak from the strong, and to protect the vulnerable from the oppressor. These are factors that have led the courts to treat crimes involving domestic violence as grave crimes. Parliament has enacted laws designed to provide protection to those subjected to domestic violence. Parliament has recognised that crimes involving violence and assault may be aggravated by a domestic situation’.
  • R v Lennon [2003] SASC 337 (2 October 2003) – Supreme Court of South Australia
    Doyle CJ at [12]: ‘The court has said consistently that it must do what it can to protect women from violence by men. This applies just as much to violence within a domestic relationship as it does to violence in other situations. In cases like this the community expects, and protection of women requires, that the court should impose a sentence that is likely to deter the individual offender and to deter other potential offenders. The fact that the violence occurs on the spur of the moment is a relevant factor, but this is often true in the case of domestic violence. The impulsive nature of such offences is often offset by the fact that, as here, there is a pattern of violence within the particular relationship, or on the part of the particular offender. Mr Lennon's record makes it clear that he has not yet learned that violence towards women cannot be accepted’.
  • Gregson v Tasmania [2018] TASCCA 14 (31 August 2018) – Tasmanian Court of Criminal Appeal Appeal

    At [37], the Court held –

    ‘Women in domestic circumstances are particularly vulnerable to the abuse of power and breach of trust by violence male partners (Director of Public Prosecutions v Karklins [2018] TASCCA 6 per Geason J, at [54]–[60]). Women who become victims in these circumstances, and other potential victims in the community, are entitled to such protection as the law is able to provide through the imposition of sentences that will act as both a personal and general deterrent.’
  • Her Majesty's Attorney-General v O [2004] TASSC 53 (9 June 2004) – Supreme Court of Tasmania
    Slicer J at [18] cited: ‘R v Brown (1992) 73 CCC (3d) 242 at 249: 'When a man assaults his wife or other female partner, his violence toward her can be accurately characterised as a breach of the position of trust which he occupies. It is an aggravating factor. Men who assault their wives are abusing the power and control which they so often have over the women with whom they live. The vulnerability of many such women is increased by the financial and emotional situation in which they find themselves, which makes it difficult for them to escape'.
  • Saxton v R [2017] VSCA 357 (5 December 2017) – Victorian Court of Appeal

    The applicant was sentenced to 7 months’ imprisonment for 5 assault charges committed against his wife. Justices Santamaria and Coghlan JJA stated that the offending was ‘serious’ and stemmed from an ‘abusive relationship between the applicant and the victim, who was vulnerable and frightened of the applicant’ ([29]). The Court quotes Kalala v The Queen [2017] VSCA 223 discussing the scourge of domestic violence:

    The trial courts of this State are imposing sentences for family violence offences with increasing frequency. This Court has repeatedly emphasised the need to condemn family violence, in line with community expectations. In Filiz v The Queen [2014] VSCA 212 [23], the Court acknowledged the ‘shameful truth’ that family violence is a leading cause of illness, disability and death among Victorian women aged between 15 and 44.
  • Portelli v The Queen [2015] VSCA 159 (22 June 2015) – Victorian Court of Appeal

    The Court at [29]-[30]: ‘The sentencing judge described the attack on C as ‘extremely vicious and intolerably abhorrent’. It was clear, his Honour said, that C was terrified: ‘You made her believe she was going to die. To ask you, her attacker, to comfort her after your attack because she thought she was going to die reveals how frightening the experience must have been for her. Yet she was in her home in the presence of an intimate partner and entitled to feel safe and secure. She was doing no more than going about her ordinary life. I do not think that she trusted you; rather, she was in fear of your confrontations when denied what you wanted. Undoubtedly, your vicious attack will be an ongoing nightmare for her. It is clear that the community is intolerant of violent behaviour in such circumstances and expects the courts to send a strong message that behaviour of this kind is totally unacceptable. Women in domestic situations are entitled to feel safe from the violently abusive behaviour of their ex-partners. This circumstance is a significant aggravating feature’ [emphasis added by the Court].

    ‘We respectfully agree. What his Honour said accords with recent statements of this Court on the subject of violent attacks by men on their current or former domestic partners’ (see Filiz v The Queen; Pasinis v The Queen; Director of Public Prosecutions v Meyers).
  • Filiz v The Queen [2014] VSCA 212 (11 September 2014) – Victorian Court of Appeal
    Redlich JA at [21]-[23]: ‘It is a shameful truth that family violence is a leading cause of illness, disability and death among Victorian women aged between 15 and 44. It is also sadly true that there are a great number of women who live in real and justified fear of the men who are, or were, their intimate partners. In such circumstances, the submission that the complainant’s level of fear when being attacked by her ex-partner was less than it might have been if she had been attacked by a stranger should be rejected’.
  • Director of Public Prosecutions v Paulino (Sentence) [2017] VSC 794 (21 December 2017) – Supreme Court of Victoria

    Justice Bell explained that formal equality has been reached for men and women as victims of crimes. However, substantive equality requires recognition of the ‘specificity and subjectivity of women’s experience of family violence, which is much greater and different to men’s, and the violation of their particular rights as women ([22]). His Honour further stated at [21]:

    It is now increasingly recognised by police and the courts that family violence as a crime has a gender dimension because women are vastly overrepresented as victims and profoundly affected in particular ways that are not typical of men. Ensuring respect for their human rights not just as persons but as women is at stake. This is a more informed way of understanding the causes and consequences, as well as the fundamental nature, of the criminal wrong as it is perpetrated upon women by men (citing Kalala v The Queen [2017] VSCA 223 (30 August 2017) [3(iii)])
  • Bropho v Hall [2015] WASC 50 (9 February 2015) – Supreme Court of Western Australia
    Mitchell J at [16]: ‘The fact that the aggravated assault occurred in a domestic setting is a significant aggravating factor of the offence. An offence of this nature generally involves an abuse of the trust which one partner places in another, often where the victim is in a vulnerable position by reason of greater physical strength of the offender. The vulnerability of the victim is generally increased by the difficulty which she (it is usually a she) may have in extricating herself from the situation. As McLure P has noted [in The State of Western Australia v Cheeseman], the readiness of many victims to return to, or remain in, a relationship with the perpetrator is a hallmark of domestic violence. Recognising that common feature, it remains important for a court sentencing an offender for that kind of offence to take account of the need to protect persons in that vulnerable position, so far as the courts can do so by the imposition of a sentence, bearing a proper relationship to the overall criminality of the offence, which has a deterrent effect and, in an appropriate case, removes the offender to a place where there is no opportunity to violently attack their partner’ (which was approved by the court in Gillespie v The State of Western Australia [48]).
  • R v Rappel [2017] ACTSC 38 (24 February 2017) – Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court
    ‘For many years now, the courts of this country have spoken of the need to protect members of the community, and particularly women, from domestic violence, and the need for courts to take seriously offences of domestic violence. If these statements are to have meaning, if the protection offered by the [Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act 2008 (ACT)] is to have significance, it is incumbent on courts to recognise the heinousness of offences of violence committed in retribution for a member of the community invoking the protection provided by the Act.’ Per Burns J at [131]
  • Director of Public Prosecutions (Victoria) v Turner [2017] VSC 358 (23 June 2017) – Victorian Supreme Court
    Bell J at [13]: “Such is the great contemporary ugliness of domestic violence as revealed by the facts of this case. By reason of these and so many other dreadful consequences, this court treats crimes of domestic violence, especially those involving homicide, very seriously. As King J has said in several cases and specifically so in R v Mulhall, ‘the law will do all it can to protect women from violent domestic partners’. Therefore, the court condemns domestic violence in the strongest possible terms and stresses in this case, as it has in many others, that specific and general deterrence are the most important sentencing considerations.”