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Judgment handed down in DPP v Clunie (a pseudonym)

14 September 2016

The Court of Appeal (Acting Chief Justice Maxwell, Justice Osborn and Justice Santamaria) today allowed an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions against a sentence imposed on a man who pleaded guilty to multiple sexual offences against his step-grandchildren.

Mr Clunie (a pseudonym) committed various sexual offences against his step-grandchildren while they were in his care when they were between the ages of 7 and 13.  Several of the offences involved penetration.

Mr Clunie pleaded guilty to the offences, and two charges were based upon his admissions alone. He was originally sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 4 years.

The sentencing judge said that, due to the principle of totality, he had moderated the individual sentences imposed, and had cumulated the sentences to ensure proportionality to the overall criminality.

The Court of Appeal said that the preferable approach was to impose appropriate individual sentences, and then to cumulate to ensure a proportionate sentence, not to ‘moderate and cumulate’ as this results in:

concealment of what the judge in fact regarded as the appropriate and proportionate sentence for each charge viewed in isolation … and … a need for greater accumulation in order to arrive at an appropriate total effective sentence.

The Court of Appeal was satisfied that the sentence imposed was manifestly inadequate. Mr Clunie was resentenced to eight years’ imprisonment, and a non-parole period of five and a half years was set.

Read the full judgment on Austlii (External link)

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