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Judgment handed down in Commonwealth DPP v Haynes
06 April 2017
The Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal against sentence by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr Haynes pleaded guilty in the County Count to nine charges relating to sexual offending or harassment via the internet. The primary offences were using a carriage service to ‘procure’ and ‘engage’ in sexual activity with persons under the age of 16 (contrary to ss 474.26 and 474.25A of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) respectively). Mr Haynes used a false identity on various websites and social media to encourage adolescent children to provide him with photos and videos of themselves engaging in sexual activities. Upon receipt of these materials, he then attempted to coerce or blackmail them, either asking for further materials or directing them to meet him in person. None of his victims met with him in person.
Mr Haynes was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment on a recognisance release order (‘RRO’) with a pre-release period of 10 months. The Director appealed on the ground that the individual sentences and total effective sentence were manifestly inadequate. She sought leave during the hearing to amend her ground of appeal to also challenge the pre-release period.
The Court found that the individual sentences and total effective sentence were low, but not manifestly inadequate. On the plea, the prosecution had not disputed that a RRO was appropriate even though it effectively meant that the period of imprisonment could not exceed three years. The failure to challenge that disposition on the plea precluded the Director from challenging the RRO or the pre-release period on appeal. Although leave to amend was therefore refused, the Court observed that the pre-release period was manifestly inadequate. The Court further said that, even if the Director’s amendment had been allowed, it would have exercised the residual discretion to dismiss the appeal against the pre-release period because of the belated challenge to that sentence and to avoid disrupting the progress of Mr Hayne’s rehabilitation.