Appeals slap for lenient judges
Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said “sentencing isn’t straightforward”.
Chief Justice Ferguson said: “All judges strive to ensure the fairest and most appropriate sentence for any crime.
“When a decision is made and someone is unhappy about it, the decision can be taken to an independent group of people (the Court of Appeal) to look at it and change the decision if they agree it was wrong.
“The ability to remake the decision if there’s been a mistake is what makes the decision-making by judges very different from most jobs.”
She added that punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation and protecting the community were key issues to take into consideration.
In a case where a 51-yearold man was so viciously attacked he lost part of his bowel, the appeal court increased the original 23-month jail term to five years.
The judgment said there was “nothing in His Honour’s sentencing remarks which adequately explains such a lenient sentence”.
In another example, the Court of Appeal was also critical of a 10-year jail term given to Sevdet Besim, who plotted to run down and behead a policeman on Anzac Day, arguing the sentence did not meet community standards.
“Having regard to the scourge of modern terrorism, and the development of more recent sentencing principles in this area, this seems to us to have been unduly lenient,” the judges said.
In one of the worst cases uncovered, well-known BMX rider and online predator Fabien Meharry abused 22 girls between the ages of 11 and 17, subjecting them to degrading acts over nine years. He got just 12 years in jail.
After an appeal, that sentence increased to 22 years.
Jared Brown, who helped a Mexican syndicate import ice worth $60 million, was originally jailed for 12 years but later had that increased to 20 years, with a non-parole period of 15 years.
Legal sources say prosecutors are becoming increasingly frustrated at many sentences dished out, but current senten- cing practices dissuade them from appealing as new precedents with tougher punishments were not being set.
Victims of Crime Commissioner Greg Davies said judges needed to harden up and start giving more weight to the maximum sentence rather than just a paltry portion of it.
“Judges need to start listen- ing to the community and the High Court to deliver a modern justice system that the community wants,” Mr Davies said. “It should not be left to the appeals court to rectify a sentence that is so bad, it is almost doubled.
“The only guarantee that the community will feel safe from these predatory criminals is while they are incarcerated.”
The Office of Public Prosecutions declined to comment.
It was recently revealed Supreme Court judges had snubbed the government’s Sentencing Guidelines Council, which aims to give Victorians a greater say on the sentencing of criminals.