Fresh scrutiny on Scown
Review ordered over sentencing of child killers
THE Government has ordered an urgent review into whether child killers are escaping with lenient sentences three months after defending the laws as adequate.
The abrupt about-face follows footage of convicted killer Matthew Scown emerging from court laughing after receiving a four-year jail term, suspended after serving almost three years, for allowing his girlfriend’s battered four-year- old son Tyrell Cobb to die without treatment.
It comes ahead of an election in which crime will again be a central issue.
Announcing the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council probe, Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the public was right to be disturbed by the footage of Scown, who wasn’t laughing yesterday while fleeing media outside his mother’s home.
But Ms D’Ath denied the case had triggered the review.
“There is a growing concern from the general public about whether sentencing for criminal offences arising from the death of a child, are meeting the community’s expectations,” she said.
“The Government believes this is an important area for consideration and that is why I will be referring an inquiry to the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council relating to sentencing arising from offences resulting in a child’s death.”
Ms D’Ath’s spokeswoman said in July, when advocates last argued child killers were escaping with lenient sentences, that Queensland had strong and robust legislative measures in place to allow the courts to “sentence offenders appropriately, including in cases where children are involved”.
Ms D’Ath also sought a briefing from the DPP on Tyrell’s case, a sign she is considering lodging an appeal.
Criminal lawyer Bill Potts backed the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which was accused of going soft on child killers and offering plea deals. He agreed it was time for sentencing of child killers to be discussed in relation to community expectations for justice to “keep pace with changing circumstances”.
Matthew Scown was more circumspect yesterday.