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.

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