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Judgment handed down in DPP v West (a pseudonym)
21 February 2017
The Court of Appeal today allowed an appeal against sentence by the Director of Public Prosecutions on the ground that the sentence was manifestly inadequate.
The respondent was convicted after a trial of 8 counts of indecent act with a child under the age of 16 and 3 counts of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16. He was acquitted on two further charges. A judge sentenced him to a total effective sentence of 5 years and 6 months’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 3 years.
The offending, which took place over a period of approximately 16 months, occurred when the complainant was aged between seven and eight and the respondent was aged between 43 and 44. The respondent is the former partner of the complainant’s mother.
The Court of Appeal found that the offending constituted a serious betrayal of trust and had taken a profound psychological toll on the complainant and her mother. The offending persisted despite the complainant telling the respondent that she did not like what he was doing. While the respondent’s previous good character (as evidenced by his substantial record of community service), physical ailments and somewhat vulnerable mental state were taken into account in mitigation, the Court ultimately concluded that the sentence was manifestly inadequate. In particular, the orders for cumulation did not reflect the repeated violations of the complainant over a period of more than a year.
The Court re-sentenced the respondent to a total effective sentence of 7 years and 6 months’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 5 years.