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Court of Appeal publishes reasons in Tannous v The Queen

02 May 2017

The Court of Appeal today published its reasons for resentencing Mr Charlie Tannous. Mr Tannous had pleaded guilty to multiple arson offences and to assaulting an emergency services worker. He was originally sentenced to seven years and six months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of five years. 

It was conceded by the Crown on appeal that the sentencing judge failed to adequately take into account that Mr Tannous has an acquired brain injury and mental health issues. The Court observed that the principle of parsimony required that the period of incarceration should be the shortest period that would achieve the purpose for which the sentence was to be imposed. The Crown accepted that a different, but not necessarily lesser, sentence could be imposed by combining a term of imprisonment with a Community Correction Order (CCO).

The Court of Appeal resentenced Mr Tannous to four years’ imprisonment combined with a CCO of four years, to begin when he finishes his term of imprisonment.  The expert evidence established that both Mr Tannous and the community would benefit from him having a structured regime when he is released from prison.  The CCO has strict conditions, including that Mr Tannous must abstain from consuming drugs and alcohol, be supervised by a Community Correction Officer, and undergo mental health treatment.  The Court observed that it was regrettable that neither party drew the sentencing judge’s attention to the possibility of combining a term of imprisonment with a CCO. Parliament has provided a special sentencing structure for arson offences, which allow a CCO to be combined with a term of imprisonment of any length, rather than the usual limit of two years’ imprisonment. The Court stated that the structure provided by a CCO was desirable given the particular circumstances of this case.

Read the Court's full reasons on Austlii (External link)

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