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Court of Appeal dismisses appeals against sentence

04 March 2016

The Court of Appeal has dismissed appeals against sentence in Ritchie v The Queen and Harrison v The Queen [2016] VSCA 27, on 4 March 2016. The appeals against sentence were made by two co-offenders who had each pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated burglary and one charge of causing injury intentionally.

The offending occurred when the appellants broke into their victim’s home and assaulted him with a stick. The judge sentenced one offender to a total effective sentence of five years and six months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of three years and six months, and sentenced the other offender to five years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of three years. 

When sentencing the offenders, the judge incorrectly stated the maximum penalty for causing injury intentionally as 15 years. In fact the maximum penalty for this offence was only ten years. The judge was led into this error by counsel who appeared before him on the plea.

The issues on the appeal were whether this error could have materially affected the appellants’ sentences, and whether any different sentence should now be passed on the appellants in any event. 

Dismissing the appeal, the Court said:

The sentences imposed for intentionally causing injury in the circumstances of this case were moderate. The orders for cumulation were similarly moderate.  In our view, there is real substance in the proposition that the error as to maximum penalty could not have materially affected either of these sentences imposed by the judge.  But if there be any doubt about that issue, then we would conclude that … no different sentence should now be passed in respect of either of the appellants.

Read the full judgment on Austlii (External link)

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